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Justin Perry: Distinguished Faculty Award Winner

The mocha carpet in Dr. Justin Perry second-floor Julka Hall office barely peeks through the meticulously piled stacks of research reports and journal articles carefully lining the floor. Hundreds of books and published journals, focused on topics like urban education and counseling psychology, stand in tight formation to conceal eggshell-hued walls. The associate professors office reflects more than a typical work space , it reveals the work ethic of a highly-skilled researcher.

Research has been the hallmark of Perry career in the Counseling, Administrative, Supervision and Adult Learning (CASAL) department. In his seven years at Cleveland State University, the director of the Center for Urban Education has performed at an impressive rate, publishing 21 peer-reviewed journal articles and eight book chapters, as well as serving on and securing more than 20 grants for university research.

For his notable pace of research production and commitment to external funding Perry has been recognized as the 2013 Distinguished Faculty Award for Research recipient.

Perry research in college and career readiness of urban youth addresses relevant field concerns including school dropout prevention, positive youth development and transitions from high school to post-secondary education. His independent line of research addresses academic, career and socio-emotional development across the urban K-12 pipeline.

Perry credits his productivity to an innate interest in research and learning.
The research process is something I naturally enjoy doing, says Perry. My role as director of the CUE allows me to work with people from different disciplines and feeds my desire to learn more. With greater exposure to different perspectives and research areas, I have a greater range of tools and strategies to help fix common problems for a wide range of stakeholders.

As the director of the CUE, Perry has played an integral role in assisting university faculty members secure grants for funding their research. Currently serving as evaluator, co-principal investigator, or investigator on 12 funded grants, Perry is researching a wide range of issues, including the K-20 health care workforce pipeline initiative for the NEOMED-CSU Partnership for Urban Health.

The associate professor is also investigating teacher training, youth programming, mentoring and professional development for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education grants, as well as examining classroom management methods at the Campus International School and the CSU TRIO McNair Scholars program.

In the summer of 2010, Perry, principal investigator, was awarded a $1 million grant from the US Department of Education and Institute of Education Sciences. Making My Future Work (MMFW) is a comprehensive college and career readiness intervention program aimed at reducing the risk for school dropout and preparing urban youth for the transition into post-secondary education.

The inter-disciplinary program has been implemented in three school districts across eight public urban high schools, says Perry. By 2014, a finalized draft of the curriculum, including a training and orientation DVD, will be available for public dissemination.

He believes the collaborative research efforts of the CUE will offer educational administrators, families and community agents practical problem-solving strategies and solutions.

Traditionally, academics can feel a little out of touch with practitioners, says Perry. I am working to strengthen the connection between the work we do at the university level and problems that everyday practitioners face in school settings. I want the CUE’s research contributions to be perceived as relevant to stakeholders in the urban education community.

While he has won several awards during his career, Perry says his experience as a member of Esperanza, Incs board of directors has been most rewarding. A Cleveland-based non-profit organization, Esperanza is devoted to improving the academic achievement of Hispanics within the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

As co-chair of the Programs Committee, Perry constructed a strategic plan for evaluating Esperanzas youth programs that later resulted in an external grant funded by the ONeill Foundation. Perry credits his unwavering belief in the value of public urban education as the motivation behind his volunteer work at Esperanza.

I really believe working with organizations like Esperanza is important because neglecting the needs of urban education has high-stake consequences, says Perry. We want students to graduate and have high-wage, high-skilled jobs and contribute to the economy of Cleveland. It is important for everyone in Cleveland.

While Perry is humbled by the Universitys recognition of his research, he feels no accomplishment can compare to the fulfillment his career provides in serving faculty, staff and students.

The Distinguished Faculty Award for Research is an honor I was not expecting, says Perry. But, no award can speak to the pride I feel every day for trying to make a difference. It can only be done collectively by working with those who share common interests, or destinies.