Thursday, May 12, 2022

Megan Foley Nicpon, an internationally recognized expert in counseling psychology and twice-exceptionality, has been named the new director of the University of Iowa College of Education’s Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development.

Foley Nicpon, a professor in counseling psychology and Department Executive Officer (DEO) for Psychological and Quantitative Foundations at the UI College of Education, will officially begin in her new leadership role Aug. 1.

“Dr. Foley Nicpon is a highly respected colleague in the field of gifted education and talent development with a reputation for collaboration and exceptional leadership,” says College of Education Dean Dan Clay. “She has done a great job of leading our Department of Psychological and Quantitative Foundations over the past three years, and I am confident that Dr. Foley Nicpon will help the Belin-Blank Center continue to grow and serve gifted and talented students and their families and teachers while continuing to build on the center’s international reputation as a leader in research and engaged scholarship.”

She succeeds Susan Assouline, who currently holds the Myron and Jacqueline N. Blank Endowed Chair in Gifted Education, and is a professor of school psychology. Assouline has successfully led the center since December of 2012 and will continue to teach and conduct research on the College of Education faculty until fully retiring in June of 2023.

Foley Nicpon has also been named the new Myron and Jacqueline N. Blank Endowed Chair in Gifted Education, also beginning Aug. 1. She is the third person to hold this named chair.

“The Belin-Blank Center is a very special place with an outstanding national and international reputation, and I am honored to be its next leader,” says Foley Nicpon.

Foley Nicpon started her career at the University of Iowa in 2004 after receiving her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Arizona State University. She began as a postdoctoral scholar at the Belin-Blank Center, where she quickly became interested in twice-exceptional students. Twice-exceptionality is a term used to describe “a gifted student with a co-occurring disability,” according to the National Association for Gifted Children.

Foley Nicpon is one of the leading researchers in this field, and her findings with Assouline have changed educators’ perspectives on high ability students. 

She became the DEO of the Department of Psychological and Quantitative Foundations in 2019 and also serves as the associate director for research and clinic at the Belin-Blank Center. In this role, she has collaborated on grant-funded projects focused on talent development among groups underrepresented in gifted education, including students with disabilities, and with clinic staff on research and training initiatives.

Foley Nicpon’s research and clinical interests include assessment and intervention with high ability students with autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, and emotional/learning difficulties, and the social and emotional development of talented and diverse students. She has one co-edited book and over 70 referred articles and book chapters in the areas of talent development, counseling psychology, and twice-exceptionality, and given over 160 presentations at international, national, and state professional meetings.

She is a co-principal investigator, along with colleagues Susan Assouline and Saba Ali, on a $2.1 million U.S. Department of Education grant to identify and provide career programming for underrepresented students in gifted education. She is also co-principal investigator with Ali on a $1.9 million Behavioral Health Workforce Education Program grant to build a mental health workforce to serve rural Iowa youth.

Foley Nicpon provides clinical and research supervision to doctoral students in Counseling Psychology, many of whom focus on child psychology and talent development.  Awards include the Big Ten Academic Alliance Fellowship, National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) Early Scholar Award, American Educational Research Association (AERA) Research on Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent Path Breaker Award, AERA Division E Outstanding Research Award in Human Development, and, twice, the MENSA Research Award, MENSA Education & Research Foundation. She was also inducted into the Iowa Academy of Education in 2019.

Founded in 1988 by Nicholas Colangelo, the Belin-Blank Center quickly developed into an internationally respected powerhouse providing innovative programming for gifted and talented students in addition to groundbreaking work with teachers.

The Belin-Blank Center is dedicated to serving the needs of the talented and gifted community at local, national, and international levels. It offers programs for preservice and in-service educators, including the State of Iowa Talented and Gifted Endorsement. Its online and on-campus courses about the nature and needs of gifted learners, as well as about ways to facilitate talent development, support the professional development of educators worldwide.

The center is home to the Assessment and Counseling Clinic,  the Acceleration Institute, and the Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy.