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Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - Take 5 with Julie Ricks-Doneen
By Katie Land, news editor

Composed of a diverse array of faculty, staff and administrators, the Oakland University community is unique, creative, and dedicated. As part of a continuing effort to explore the various roles and lives of our Golden Grizzlies, the News at OU website presents a special interview series. We invite you to share these stories and “Take 5” with OU.


Take 5 with Julie Ricks-Doneen


Julie Ricks-Doneen is the faculty director of the Lowry Center for Early Childhood Education, as well as an associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Child Studies, and program coordinator for OU’s Education Specialist in Early Education Intervention program. Julie arrived at OU in 2005, after a 10-year stretch at the College of Southern Idaho. Prior to that position, Julie spent several years at Michigan State University, where she earned her doctorate and served as an instructor. At OU, Julie heads up the Lowry Center, conducts research and teaches courses. Outside of the university, Julie serves on several local and state committees to promote quality early childhood research, program development and teaching that is reflective of community characteristics and needs. Julie lives with her husband Richard, two sons, and two dogs and a cat in Hadley, MI.

1) How does your work at the Lowry Center support or interact with your academic research?

Nearly everything we do at Lowry merges with the academic work at OU. By taking ideas from teaching courses into the Lowry setting, I can see how methods would logistically work in a real environment. When I see through my faculty lens, I find so many opportunities for student involvement, whether through the classes I teach or in a different program entirely. We have students from all over Oakland involved at the center. Currently there are Music, Theatre and Dance students teaching young children to dance, linguistics students studying toddler speech development, and physical therapy students working at the pediatric level. We are working to collaborate with nursing and medical students in the future. Some come for one assignment and others work with us long term. Part of the idea of having a faculty member as the Lowry director is to forge these relationships and new collaborations.

2) What is your favorite Michigan season?

Fall, definitely. I like everything about it – the crispness of the air, the bright colors, and the sense of change.

3) What is something many of your colleagues don’t know about you?

Many people don’t know that I can stand on my head! Every once in a while I will stand on my head in one of the Lowry classrooms and the kids all want to do it too, so we get out the gymnastics mats and have a great tumble party.

4) Why do you think professional development is so important in your field?


Historically, professionals in the early childhood development are way under-valued, and do not have much status in society. This has improved slightly in recent years, which is helped by having articulate professionals change people’s perceptions. Our Lowry teachers are highly qualified and very skilled individuals who are experts in their field. I respect their leadership capabilities and like to offer them the opportunity to take on new leadership roles.

5) Do you have any special hobbies?

Gardening and plants. I have a green thumb and can sometimes bring distressed plants back to life. Every Friday morning, I load up my cart with big pitchers and water all the plants and landscaping around the Lowry Center. I find it very relaxing. At home I have a vegetable and herb garden, as well as flowers in a shade garden in the front and a sun one in the back. I like to add new flowers and play with the design.