COE’s Will Parnell recognized with 2021 Hoffman Award

By Emily Taylor

Will Parnell, EdD, is the recipient of the 2021 George C. Hoffman Award.

Will Parnell, EdD, has been awarded the 2021 Hoffman Award, one of the most prestigious honors given by Portland State University, in recognition of his distinguished contributions in instruction, university service, and scholarship in more than 25 years with the university. An accomplished scholar in the field of early childhood education, Parnell is the former co-director of the Helen Gordon Child Development Center, and currently serves as a Professor and Department Chair in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

Tina Anctil, Associate Dean of the College of Education, described Parnell’s current role as one that is often “thankless and exhausting,” adding, “He oversees literally hundreds of adjunct instructors each year, and mentors over two dozen junior faculty.  His leadership has been instrumental in maintaining the high quality of instruction that the COE is known for.”

Describing Parnell’s style of teaching, Mary Schumacher-Hoerner, current director of the Helen Gordon Child Development Center, said, “As an instructor, Will is open-minded, leading thought-provoking discussions and reflections. He demonstrates much respect for his students, as he does the early childhood teaching profession. He invites his students to think deeply, ask questions, and imagine a world where children are valued for their own contributions to culture and society. He is a positive and influential instructor, who keeps his students in the center of his teaching.”

In her letter nominating Parnell for this award, his research colleague Jeanne Marie Iorio, EdD, senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne, wrote, “As a leader and colleague, Will illustrates the same values and ideas so important to Dr Hoffman. His leadership is done with grace and respect, consistently ensuring that all voices are heard and valued. His commitment to social justice comes through in his leadership, his research, and teaching where working towards the common good is always a central tenet.”

Parnell’s colleagues note that his focus on equity is reflected in every aspect of his work. Anctil added, “His commitment to advocate for the basic rights of equity and access to high quality education is unparalleled. In addition, he demands equity be central to the work of each program to support students.”

Kimberley Brown, professor of Applied Linguistics and International Studies, added, “Will is a change agent: wherever he is and whoever he is working with will learn from his integrity and ability to model what it means to possess cultural humility and a passion for educational equity.”

His prodigious scholarship has resulted in a remarkable list of significant contributions and accomplishments, including being co-editor of three highly regarded books, and the author of 15 refereed articles and 11 book chapters. As a result, Parnell’s work is recognized internationally and he has given dozens of peer-reviewed national and international conference presentations and keynote addresses in the field of early childhood education.

In addition to his leadership roles within the college and university, Parnell also takes on leadership roles throughout the field of early childhood. These roles include president, president-elect, and vice president of National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators (NAECTE) and chair of the Critical Perspectives in Early Childhood Education (CPECE) Special Interest Group (SIG), American Educational Research Association.

To share stories about the College of Education, contact media relations specialist Emily Taylor at

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