Wednesday, May 5, 2021

By: Claire Quigle

Though Terry Ackerman has worked in many different places and held many different career titles, there has been one constant –student success.

“I want my legacy to be about supporting students and their success,” says Ackerman, who has served as a distinguished visiting professor in the Educational Measurement and Statistics program since the fall of 2018 and who is retiring this summer. “I hope to be able to stay close with all my former students, relive shared memories and enjoy the successful careers and contributions of all my students and colleagues.”

Ackerman grew up in Racine, Wisconsin, and received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He then went on to receive a Master of Science and doctorate, both in Educational Psychology, from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. While working on his graduate degrees he taught high school math.

After receiving his Ph.D., Ackerman was hired and worked as a psychometrician at ACT in Iowa City for five years. While at ACT he worked with a number of respected professionals in the measurement field, many of whom are now faculty or faculty emeriti at the University of Iowa.  These include Cathy Welch, Deborah Harris, Robert Brennan, and Michael Kolen.

After his time at ACT, Ackerman realized he wanted to return to teaching. He moved to the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana to teach graduate statistics and measurement for 10 years. He then went to the University of North Carolina-Greensboro (UNCG) where he and his colleagues created a strong program in educational measurement.

Ackerman feels fortunate that he was able to combine his two passions of teaching and conducting research in educational measurement.

“I was very fortunate to get a psychometrician position at ACT and work on the ACT test as well as measurement research funded by the Office of Naval Research,” Ackerman says. “When I left ACT to go to the University of Illinois it was because my first passion is teaching.  However, I was able to teach and continued my research in educational measurement.”

While at Greensboro, besides being a faculty member, Ackerman was a department chair, associate dean, and faculty athletic representative to the NCAA. He left UNCG in 2016 to become the E.F. Linquist Chair at ACT, and in 2018 came to the UI College of Education to be a Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Psychological and Quantitative Foundations Department.

Ackerman worked with and was president of two international educational measurement and psychometric organizations: The National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME) and The Psychometric Society. NCME is a professional organization for individuals involved in assessment, evaluation, testing, and other aspects of educational measurement, and the Psychometric Society is devoted to the advancement of quantitative measurement practices in psychology, education, and the social sciences.

Ackerman has won several awards, such as the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro School of Education Teaching Excellence Award.  While at the University of Illinois he won the College of Education Distinguished Scholar,  Vice-Chancellor Teaching Scholar Award,  the Distinguished Teaching Career Award for the College of Education, and the Educational Psychology R. Stewart Jones Teacher of the Year Award seven times.

Throughout his career, Ackerman was always focused on his students and how he could help them succeed.

“My biggest successes are my students,” Ackerman says. “I think I am most proud of being able to help students become more confident in their skills, navigate their graduate programs, and successfully achieve their career goals.”

Ackerman appreciates the opportunities he had to get to know his students, their families, and their kids. He treasures the memories of watching his students present at large conferences and attending their graduation ceremonies with their families.

In retirement, Ackerman will spend more time with his grandchildren William, Andrew, and Emma, as well as travel internationally with his wife, Deb, to see former students and colleagues. He will continue to consult and do research and work with students on their research and dissertations. Ackerman and his wife plan to do a 100-mile bike ride in Door County Peninsula, Wisconsin in September, and have considered doing the American Birkebeiner, the largest cross-country ski race (over 10,000 skiers and 55 km in length) in North America.

“I am truly honored and so thankful to be able to end my career at the University of Iowa in the College of Education with such wonderful and talented students, colleagues, and friends,” Ackerman says.