Penfield College Professor Invited to Participate in National Program to Improve School Counseling


ATLANTA – Mercer University Associate Professor Dr. Karen D. Rowland has been invited by the White House and First Lady Michelle Obama to take part in a national program to improve school counseling.

The invitation-only event, which is a partnership between the White House's College Opportunity Agenda and the First Lady's Reach Higher initiative, will take place Nov. 17-18 on the campus of San Diego State University. Participants will focus on creating and implementing measurable action plans for improving school counseling preparation, programs and practices with the goal of increasing college access for all students.

Dr. Rowland is one of several members of the Georgia School Counselors Association (GSCA) who will be attending, along with State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge, representatives from the Board of Regents and College Board, school counselors, and professors from the University of Georgia and Valdosta State University.

The program developed in response to President Barack Obama's “North Star” goal for the U.S. to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020, as well as the First Lady's Reach Higher initiative, which supports that goal by focusing on the role of the school counselor and college and career advising. The First Lady's Office has been working collaboratively with the American School Counselor Association, College Board, National Association of College Admissions Counselors and Southern Regional Educational Board.

Dr. Rowland is an associate professor in the Department of Counseling and Human Sciences and associate coordinator of the School Counseling Program within Mercer's Penfield College. Her research interests include school counselor preparation, counselor education and supervision, career and multicultural counseling and multicultural counselor supervision, and she has published and presented her research at the state, regional and national level.

“We are excited to be asked to contribute the expertise of our school counseling program, led by Dr. Rowland, to the very beginning stage of the First Lady's initiative,” said Dr. Priscilla Danheiser, dean of Penfield College.

Dr. Rowland earned both her Bachelor of Science in education and Master of Education in counselor education from the University of Maine and her Doctor of Philosophy in counselor education from the University of South Carolina.

She is a licensed professional counselor (LPC), national certified counselor (NCC) and a Georgia certified school counselor at the highest level – Service (S) 7. She is a professional counselor supervisor for the state and was awarded the GSCA's Counselor Educator of the Year Award for 2012-2013. She has served on the GSCA leadership team in multiple roles, and is currently editor of the association's journal.

About Penfield College of Mercer University

Penfield College of Mercer University, established as the College of Continuing and Professional Studies in 2003, is committed to serving non-traditional learners and currently enrolls more than 1,300 students. Undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs are offered to working adult learners seeking professional advancement into leadership roles in and beyond their communities. Educational programs provide students with distinctive, multidisciplinary programs that integrate theory and practice. The College offers general education and elective courses for various colleges and schools at Mercer. Another initiative called the Bridge program transitions students enrolled in Mercer's English Language Institute and other international students to undergraduate programs throughout the University. Areas of study include organizational leadership, counseling, school counseling, human services, human resources, informatics, public safety leadership, nursing preparation, liberal studies, psychology and communication. Programs are offered on Mercer's campuses in Atlanta and Macon, as well as multiple regional academic centers in Douglas County, Henry County, Newnan and Eastman, and online. To learn more, visit

Kyle is the director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he coordinates hometown and university news releases and serves as editor of the News@Mercer e-newsletter and Reach magazine.​