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Vander Putten named Faculty Excellence in Research and Creative Endeavors winner for College of Education and Health Professions

Jim Vander Putten
Faculty Excellence award nominee James Vander Putten. Photo by Ben Krain.

Dr. Jim Vander Putten, associate professor of higher education, has been selected as the 2020 Faculty Excellence in Research and Creative Endeavors award winner for the UA Little Rock College of Education and Health Professions.

“Dr. Vander Putten’s research during the past five years is notable for two primary reasons,” said Dr. W. Newton Suter, professor of educational foundations. “First, he rises to the challenge of a heavy faculty instructional load of three graduate-level, writing-intensive courses per semester in combination with a heavy doctoral dissertation advising load averages 15 students per semester for the past 15 years. Second, his work exemplifies the breadth, quality, and timeliness of quality research that benefits a variety of audiences.”

Vander Putten uses his skills, knowledge, and experience conducting research to teach doctoral students about the process of conducting educational research. He views his research skills as critical to preparing doctoral-trained graduates who effectively analyze data and use evidence to inform their academic decision-making, generate new knowledge to improve educational practices, and develop solutions to educational problems in higher and postsecondary education in Arkansas.

“From day one, Dr. Vander Putten illustrated care for my educational journey in the field of higher education,” said Kayla Saptoka, a former student of Vander Putten and now an instructor of business at Arkansas State University at Beebe.

In 2018, Saptoka and Vander Putten published an article on social media acceptance and usage by business communication faculty in “Business and Professional Communication Quarterly.”

“Through discussion of career goals and opportunities, as well as classroom instruction, Dr. Vander Putten socialized me to the essence of what it means to be a quality educator, guiding me to transform two class research papers into presentations at national conferences and one research paper into a peer-reviewed publication,” Saptoka said.

Vander Putten’s recent research focuses on faculty social class backgrounds as well as on subgroups of undergraduate students and their behaviors related to college choice, academic performance, persistence, and graduation.

His book chapter, “Educational Experiences of Faculty from Working-Class Backgrounds,” was published in the 2018 Syracuse University Press book, “On the Borders of the Academy: Challenges and Strategies for First Generation Graduate Students and Faculty.” A forthcoming chapter offers a qualitative analysis of U.S. working-class faculty histories and will be published in a book on international higher education.

“Dr. Vander Putten’s research on undergraduate students has significant implications for Arkansas colleges and universities,” said Dr. Kenneth Oldfield, professor emeritus of public administration. “His cutting-edge research and publications relating to increasing faculty diversity based on socioeconomic origins are particularly important at UA Little Rock given the proportion of first-generation college student enrollment. Both Dr. Vander Putten’s own publications and those of his advisees will be valuable to assist faculty and administrators to continue moving higher education in Arkansas forward.”

Vander Putten’s degrees include a Ph.D. in higher education from the University of Michigan, a M.S. in higher education from Indiana University, a B.S. in education from the University of Wisconsin-Stout, and an A. A. in business from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

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