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Whitworth selects Jann Leppien as its inaugural Margo Long Chair in Gifted Education

March 25, 2013
Jann Leppien, Ph.D., an internationally known expert in the field of gifted education, will join Whitworth University as its inaugural Margo Long Chair in Gifted Education, an endowed chair funded by James P. and Wanda Cowles. Leppien will join the Whitworth faculty in July.

Leppien currently serves as associate professor of education at the University of Great Falls, in Great Falls, Mont., where she teaches courses in curriculum and instruction, gifted education, assessment and learning, educational research, and methods in social sciences. Additionally, she teaches curriculum courses and thinking-skills courses online and in the Three Summers Program at the University of Connecticut.

“This is an exciting day for Whitworth,” says Whitworth President Beck A. Taylor. “I am particularly thrilled for our students and for the Spokane community to have the opportunity to work with someone at the top of her field in gifted education.”

Prior to her current position as associate professor at the University of Great Falls, Leppien was a research assistant for The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented (NRC/GT). She also worked as a classroom teacher, enrichment specialist, and coordinator of a gifted education program in Montana.

In addition to her extensive teaching experience, Leppien is co-author and editor of several published books that focus on the development of curriculum for advanced-level students.

“I am thrilled to have this opportunity to come to Whitworth and to help the university continue moving toward its goal of becoming even more widely recognized as one of the top professional training centers for educators in the field of gifted education,” Leppien says.

The Margo Long Endowed Chair in Gifted Education is named for Whitworth Associate Professor Emeritus Margo Long, who founded the university’s Center for Gifted Education and Professional Development in 1979 and worked as its director until her retirement, in 2011.

“We are grateful to Wanda and Jim Cowles for their generous donation to fund an endowed chair in gifted education at Whitworth,” says Taylor. “Their gift makes it possible for Whitworth to continue the legacy of Professor Margo Long.”

Whitworth's Center for Gifted Education supports and develops policies and practices that encourage and respond to the diverse expressions of gifts and talents in children and youth from all cultures, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and socioeconomic groups. To this end, the center supports and engages in research, staff development, advocacy, and communication and collaboration with other organizations and agencies that strive to improve the quality of education for all students.

“I have no doubt that Jann’s contributions to the education programs at Whitworth will result in enhanced educational services and teacher training that will have a positive impact upon gifted students in the Pacific Northwest and beyond,” says Kathryn Picanco, director of the Center for Gifted Education & Professional Development at Whitworth.

“We are extremely excited about having Dr. Jann Leppien join the School of Education faculty at Whitworth,” says Dennis Sterner, dean of the school. “Jann will immediately bring a national perspective and reputation to our gifted and talented preparation programs and be a guiding force in planning for the future.”

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Kathryn Ayers, assistant to the dean, School of Education, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4574 or

Lucas Beechinor, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or