Jevon Hunter, assistant professor of elementary education and reading at Buffalo State, has been appointed to the college’s prestigious Woods-Beals Endowed Chair in Urban Education. Hunter, a native of Southern California, joined Buffalo State in fall 2010. He brought with him extensive experience in teaching and research into the needs of diverse student populations.
“From the time he joined our faculty, we knew we had an extraordinary individual with a passion for working with kids, teachers, and teacher candidates as well as a true connection to the needs of urban schools,” said Wendy Paterson, dean of the School of Education. “Dr. Hunter has proven himself a unique and dynamic colleague, so we were truly grateful that he was interested in applying for this critically important position. The field of scholars in urban education is impressive, but few bring as insightful an understanding to the task of research in practice as does Dr. Hunter.
“It was immediately apparent in reviewing his record of research, scholarship, and dedication to teacher education that we had found the person who most perfectly matched the vision of alumna Eleanore Woods Beals and her husband Vaughn Beals in endowing this chair for the improvement of education in the city of Buffalo,” added Paterson. “We are profoundly grateful for their generosity, since it gives Buffalo State a chance to provide leadership for the advancement of our knowledge and the improvement of our practice in urban education.”
The Woods-Beals chair, established in 2002 thanks to a $1 million donation by the Beals, is one of three endowed chair positions at Buffalo State. The other two are the endowed Andrew W. Mellon Professor in Conservation Science in the Art Conservation Department, funded by the New York-based Mellon Foundation; and the Horace Mann Endowed Chair in Exceptional Education, established by the late Horace Mann, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Exceptional Education.
Hunter began his post-secondary education at Rancho Santiago Community College (currently named Santa Ana College) and earned his bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of California, Irvine. He completed his Ph.D. in education, curriculum and instruction, and literacy from the Urban Schooling division at the University of California, Los Angeles. Then, as now, he provided outstanding service to the campus, the community, and his profession. Presently, he is a board member of the Health Sciences Charter School in Buffalo, and he serves as a member of its academic committee. In addition, he works closely with students and teachers at the school to stimulate enthusiasm about literacy among students across different academic disciplines. He was a lead author on an article published in the English Journal, “Urban youth use Twitter to transform learning and engagement.” Hunter researched the use of popular technology and social networking sites as a means to help students engage with literature.
In 2014, Hunter was awarded a prestigious and highly competitive Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship. Hunter worked with noted urban education expert Pedro Noguera, the executive director of NYU Steinhardt’s Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools.
“I am honored and humbled to be named to the Woods-Beals Endowed Chair in Urban Education at Buffalo State,” said Hunter. “I am eager to begin working with our students, the surrounding urban youth, their teachers, and community partners. I am also looking forward to building coalitions between Buffalo State and colleges and universities such as New York University and Teacher’s College at Columbia that will lead to an exchange of expertise and opportunities for our communities to contribute to the larger discourse on urban education.”
In particular, Hunter is interested in understanding and addressing the issues unique to urban school systems in cities that, like Buffalo, were once heavily industrialized. “Buffalo, Rochester, Niagara Falls—these are all cities whose students are affected by a sense of diminished possibilities,” he said. Hunter hopes to establish applied research programs that will connect Buffalo State-based research with students from area school districts both in and out of the City of Buffalo.
Hunter, whose life was strongly influenced by his family and a series of college professionals, has an urgent sense of purpose. “I want to pay it forward,” he said. “I want students from pre-kindergarten through high school as well as Buffalo State students to harness the necessary tools and sharpen them to become researchers and problem solvers of their own lived social realities. After all, shouldn’t that be one of the purposes of a meaningful education?”
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