Special to The Gazette

Gaelynn Wolf Bordonaro, an art therapy professor with a heart for service and mentorship, is Emporia State University’s 2020 Roe R. Cross Distinguished Professor.

Traditionally, ESU administrators enter the classroom of the new Roe R. Cross professor to make the surprise presentation. With all Emporia State classes being offered remotely, this afternoon the group joined Wolf Bordonaro’s Art Therapy Materials and Media class that was meeting via Zoom.

“To be selected as the Roe R. Cross Distinguished Professor, a faculty member has to excel at every aspect of faculty work. They have to be an excellent teacher, a recognized researcher, and a proven leader,” Provost David Cordle told the group via Zoom.

“Dr. Wolf-Bordonaro meets those standards and then some,” he continued. “For years students have been telling us what a great teacher and mentor she is. She has to her credit a long list of scholarly articles, book chapters, and conference presentations on art therapy. And she is known for leading through collaboration, constantly working with faculty colleagues across campus on interdisciplinary projects.”

After the announcement, Wolf Bordonaro shared her reaction.

“What a surreal and wonderful surprise,” she said. “I am still at a loss for words, but I am utterly filled with gratitude.”

Wolf Bordonaro joined the Emporia State faculty in 2005 as an assistant professor of the graduate art therapy program. In 2006, she became director of the program, the title she continues to hold as she has progressed to a full professor in 2017.

She earned her Ph.D. and master of science in art therapy from Florida State University, and a bachelor of art in fine arts with a photography specialization from the University of Central Florida. She completed some of her doctoral level coursework as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia.

During her ESU tenure, Wolf Bordonaro worked with colleagues in the Department of Counselor Education to create a dual-curriculum program by which students can graduate with two master’s degrees, art therapy and either clinical counseling or clinical psychology. The program allows graduates to qualify for licensure to practice in states that do not license art therapists.

Other cross-campus collaboration includes work with faculty in the Department of Nursing to help nursing students cope when working with children facing life-threatening illness and death and their families. Eventually a class presentation and peer-reviewed articles about the experience led to development of a course offered as an elective for both nursing and art therapy students.

Wolf Bordonaro uses her skills and her passion around the world. During three consecutive years, she took ESU students to Port au Prince, Haiti, to work with children who survived the devastating 2010 earthquake. She has worked with CHART, Communities Healing Through Art, on international trauma response efforts in Chile, Thailand, Indian, South Africa, China and the coastal United States.

Wrote one former student: “I cannot attribute my personal success to Dr. Wolf Bordonaro because she would argue that I was the one who took the initiative. This being said, if it was not for her encouragement, model actions and persistent support, I would not be the counselor educator of person I am to this day.”

Wolf Bordonaro has served in leadership roles with the American Art Therapy Association since 2001. These include two separate four-year terms on the board of directors and service on the audit committee, website task force and national conference committee.

One alumnus wrote of the work Wolf Bordonaro does to help her students attend professional conferences: “She wrote grants to assist students to be able to attend and participate in art therapy conferences and involved us in preparing for the department’s Discovery Day conference. I took this for granted as part of my education and did not realize how extraordinary this was until I began working with other art therapists who told me they had never attended an art therapy conference and were not connected to the larger art therapy community.”

The Roe R. Cross Distinguished Professor Award has been given since 1979 to the ESU professor who best demonstrates teaching excellence, professional activities, fostering of intellectual atmosphere, service to the university outside the classroom and status as a student mentor. The award includes $1,000 to be used for professional activities.

As the 2020 Roe R. Cross Distinguished Professor, Wolf Bordonaro will be the speaker at the December 2020 commencement.

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