Department: The Teachers College

Persinger named 2015 Roe R. Cross Distinguished Professor

April 17, 2015

A psychology professor who continually seeks new ways to educate is the 2015 Roe R. Cross Distinguished Professor at Emporia State University.

Dr. James Persinger learned he was the recipient of the award when he walked into Visser Hall’s faculty lounge to discover a delegation of Emporia State administrators, faculty and his family.

As the shock wore off, Persinger said, “I always look at the person (who has been named as the Roe R. Cross Distinguished professor) and it’s always somebody who is so outstanding in what they’ve done in such diverse areas. It’s not just somebody that demonstrates great scholarship, but they’re always such a wonderful mentor, they always provide such astounding levels of service to their community and to their profession.”

Persinger said he often was in awe of how prior recipients devoted much of their lives to giving back.

“I’ve known, personally, many of those folks,” he said. “I didn’t know I did it well enough to be selected. It’s a little overwhelming.”

Persinger, who joined the Emporia State faculty in 2000, is director of the school psychology graduate program, a position to which he brings his own experience as a practicing school psychologist.

“This experience provides an important element of credibility when effectively preparing students for a career in the field,” wrote former student Ashley Enz, a special education consultant and school psychologist for the Blue Valley school district and president of Kansas Association of School Psychologists. Enz’s nomination letter was signed by 13 professionals connected with KASP.

A hallmark of Persinger’s career has been using technology whenever needed to be able to reach students.

“He has ‘flipped’ classrooms since I arrived as a student at ESU in 2007,” wrote Enz, “creating multiple new online courses and multiple hybrid courses. This has allowed many students access to program requirements that might not have previously been possible.”

In addition, Persinger routinely uses Skype as a way to visit school psychology interns across the country, including western Kansas, Colorado, Minnesota and India.

Persinger consistently receives high marks from students. During the spring, summer and fall 2014 semesters, Persinger received an average rating of 4.55 on a 5-point scale, the highest in the department. His high marks come despite teaching some of the most difficult and challenging courses in the psychology curriculum, said Schrader.

During that same time, said Dr. Brian Schrader, chair of the psychology department, “(Persinger) also developed a new course, taught two Internet courses, advised graduate students, set up 16 school internship/practicum sites, chaired two Ed.S. projects, was involved with eight comprehensive exams, led 60 case students, set up several new practicium sites and taught practicum courses that also involved weekend and evening classes.”

The Roe R. Cross Distinguished Professor Award has been given since 1979 to the ESU professor who best demonstrates teaching excellence, professional activities, fostering of intellectual atmosphere, service to the university outside the classroom and status as a student mentor. The award includes $1,000 to be used for professional activities.

Persinger earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology/sociology from Emporia State University as well as a master’s degree in general/experimental psychology. He earned both an Ed.S. in school psychology and Ph.D. in school psychology/counseling psychology from the University of Kansas. From 1993 to 2000, Persinger worked as a school psychologist, autism teacher and preschool coordinator for the Manhattan/Ogden school district in Kansas. He also has consulted for schools districts across the state.

As the 2015 Roe R. Cross professor, Persinger will be honored at a university reception in late April. He will be listed in the spring commencement program and be the speaker at the December 2015 commencement.