Kayte Conroy retired after 22 years of working at the University at Buffalo. Before academia, she worked in numerous community agency settings as a clinician and supervisor, providing counseling and vocational services to various populations.
Her career in academia began as an adjunct professor at UB in the undergraduate social sciences interdisciplinary degree program, where she was once a student and is now a proud alumna. Several years later, Conroy reconnected with the Department of Counseling, School and Educational Psychology (CSEP), where she was also once a student and is now an alumna. She added the position of clinical coordinator for the rehabilitation counseling and mental health counseling programs to her adjunct teaching role until she accepted a full-time clinical faculty teaching position in CSEP.
Over the course of her career, Conroy was certified as a rehabilitation counselor, licensed as a mental health counselor and was an internationally known disordered gambling specialist. Conroy has been an invited guest speaker for a variety of audiences in local, regional, national and international settings for conference presentations, lectures and workshops. She has also been actively involved with leadership roles in several community organizations and spearheaded a local chapter for a professional organization in the counseling field. As a drug court task force member, she was actively involved in the development of the nation’s first Therapeutic Diversionary Gambling Court system located in Amherst, New York.
A few highlights at UB include her instrumental role in the development of a distance education cohort for the rehabilitation counseling program that launched in 2008, as well as serving as interim program director for the master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling and long-term program director of the advanced certificate program in rehabilitation counseling. She played a critical role in the development of three advanced certificate programs, and she enjoyed many years of teaching a variety of graduate courses in CSEP.
Conroy earned a dual bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees before going on to complete a doctorate in counselor education, all from UB, while raising three children.
“Dr. Kayte,” as she is known to her students, is a first-generation college graduate and second-generation Irish-American who resides in Western New York. She is the mother of three and has two grandsons, with another on the way this fall. They will keep her busy during retirement in addition to providing counseling services to clients at her private practice.
Of all her accomplishments, Conroy is most proud of her faculty role in the process of shepherding and empowering hundreds of students during the development of the professional and clinical skills needed to launch successful careers in the counseling field.
—Jaekyung Lee, GSE professor of counseling, school and educational psychology
SUNY Distinguished Professor Jeremy D. Finn came to the University at Buffalo in 1976 after earning his PhD from the University of Chicago in educational measurement, evaluation and statistical analysis. He has taught numerous courses focused on statistics, research methods and policy issues in K-12 education in GSE’s Department of Counseling, School and Educational Psychology and Department of Educational Leadership and Policy.
In addition to his tenure at GSE, Finn has served as a visiting scholar at Stanford University and Temple University and a visiting professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He has been a member of the American Educational Research Association, American Statistical Association, National Council on Measurement in Education, the Psychometric Society and the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. He has also held research fellowships at the National Research Council, Educational Testing Service and International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement.
A national education expert on K-12 policy, Finn has been recognized as a National Assessment of Educational Progress Scholar at Educational Testing Service and NSF/ASA Fellow at the National Center for Education Statistics.
Throughout his career, Finn has researched the effect of class size on learning, academic performance, graduation rates and future employment. He was a principal investigator in the most extensive randomized study done on class size in American education to assess whether there is a connection between class size and other life characteristics such as employment and mortality rates.
An esteemed and prolific scholar, he has published extensively in top-rated journals on the topics of school and classroom conditions affiliated with student performance and dropping out. He has given invited addresses on these topics to educators, researchers and policymakers in the United States and abroad.
“As the longest-serving faculty member at UB, Dr. Finn has touched so many students’ minds with his statistics courses. When it comes to the issues of class size and student engagement, he is the go-to person for research or policy guidance,” said Jaekyung Lee, GSE professor of counseling, school and educational psychology.
Tim Janikowski came to the University at Buffalo in 1999, after 11 years on the faculty at Southern Illinois University. Upon arriving in the Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology (the word "School" had not yet been added to the department name), he became the director of the rehabilitation counseling program.
In 2004, he chaired the committee that created the mental health counseling program and became its first director. Most recently, he served as director of the counselor education doctoral program. Along the way, Janikowski served as CSEP department chair for eight years and was elected president of the American Rehabilitation Counseling Association.
Janikowski enjoyed teaching and taught every course offered by the rehabilitation counseling program and most of the mental health counseling courses. He advised hundreds of students and supervised their clinical placements, theses, qualifying papers and dissertations.
An accomplished scholar, Janikowski published numerous journal articles and a textbook on disability, rehabilitation and addiction. Outside of the department, Janikowski consulted with the Social Security Administration as a vocational expert witness for many years. He is looking forward to his retirement and “being of help” (his personal and professional motto) to his expanding family (grandson #2 is on the way).
Valerie (Val) Nesset, associate professor, is retiring after a 14-year career in the Department of Information Science. After a long stint living in mining towns in several provinces in Canada, Nesset went back to school in 1999 to pursue her master’s and then PhD in library and information science at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec.
Because of her research interests in the intersection between information behavior and information literacy instruction with elementary school students, Nesset came to UB GSE and the Department of Library and Information Science in August 2008, thrilled to be working at a university where the disciplines of LIS and education were closely aligned.
Also appealing was the city of Buffalo with its affinity to Canada as she came on her own, leaving her husband and university-aged daughters in Montreal. (Once retired, Nesset and her husband can finally live in the same country, city and house!) As an assistant professor, Nesset continued her research with young students, focusing on information literacy instruction of third-grade students in the Buffalo Public School System.
In 2010, as a direct result of teaching her first of several hybrid courses where she experimented with (then) new technologies such as Eluminate—using them in ways not done so before, and having been a mature student who had returned to school after 17 years away, pursuing graduate studies in a discipline completely new to her where she had to learn everything from the ground up—Nesset developed a new research interest: helping faculty members who were uncomfortable with technology.
After receiving tenure in 2014, she began working with the Office of the Vice President and Chief Information Officer (VPCIO) to provide a voice for those faculty who were uncomfortable with the rapid changes in technology but did not know to whom to turn. In 2017, she was named the inaugural UBIT Faculty Fellow in recognition of her work. As Faculty Fellow, serving as a liaison between UB faculty and IT professionals, she developed and ran the UB Faculty IT Liaison Program, led focus groups and usability studies for new technologies to inform IT support, and served as emcee at UBIT townhalls, as well as participated in other activities. Along with serving on many GSE and departmental committees, as well as being the MS-ILS program director for three years, Nesset also served as chair of the UB Faculty Senate IT Committee for several years, and most recently served as co-chair of the UB LMS (learning management system) review committee.
Working at UB has given Nesset incredible opportunities to grow and learn and has prepared her for an active retirement. She plans to carry on with her work in UX design outside of academia. She is especially interested in exploring its use with indigenous communities with whom she will be working as a volunteer. She also hopes some amateur theater is in her future. What is a definite is that she will continue to learn new things and, as she tells her students every week, she will make sure to “enjoy the learning!”