Remembering Dean Emerita Mary Lynne Calhoun

Mary Lynn Calhoun, dean emerita of the Cato College of Education, died May 21.

During a 31-year tenure with UNC Charlotte, starting in 1982, Calhoun served as an assistant professor of special education before rising the ranks to be appointed dean of the College of Education in 1999.

Prior to retiring in 2013, Calhoun provided visionary leadership as the college grew its faculty members and enrollment, refined its mission and created programs to better meet the needs of Charlotte and the state of North Carolina. The college became a model in promoting diversity with the number of faculty from underrepresented groups greatly increased as attention given to growing Latino population and multicultural issues were built into the curriculum.

Calhoun oversaw the expansion of graduate education by adding doctoral degrees in counseling, curriculum and instruction and special education and master’s degrees in teacher education and teaching English as a second language, which doubled graduate enrollment during her tenure.

“Professional educators transforming lives” became the conceptual framework of college programs in teaching and research. Additionally, the college served as a national model, receiving distinguished reviews from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

In 2010, the college was selected for a Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School, providing a literacy-rich program for children impacted by poverty while providing an exemplary summer learning experience for teacher education candidates. The school became one of few sites in the country housed on a university campus.

Calhoun was honored with the Faculty Service Award from the UNC Charlotte Alumni Association in 2012 for her distinguished service to the community, along with bringing recognition to the University.

In April 2014, the atrium in the Cato College of Education was dedicated in Calhoun’s honor for the indelible mark she left on the College and her role in advancing its reputation and impact in the field of education.

“Dr. Calhoun was an amazing leader for our college. Her positive impact on the people and the programs continues to this day. And for all of her excellent leadership qualities, she was an even better person. Dr. Calhoun’s profound legacy will continue to define our college,” said Malcolm Butler, dean of the Cato College of Education.

Calhoun’s teaching career began in 1968 in the Cincinnati Public Schools as what is now called a lateral entry teacher. She taught children with special needs in Ohio, Michigan, Georgia and South Carolina before arriving at UNC Charlotte in 1982.

Read the family obituary for details on a memorial to be held at a later date; memorial gifts can be made to:

  • The UNC Charlotte Cato College of Education (checks can be made out to the UNC Charlotte Foundation, 9201 University City Blvd., Charlotte, N.C. 28223. Note “ML Calhoun-Cato Ed” in the memo section). Give online by selecting Cato College of Education under the “Colleges and Schools” button.
  • Covenant Presbyterian Church — Checks can be made out to Covenant Presbyterian Church, 1000 E. Morehead St., Charlotte, N.C. 28204. Note “ML Calhoun” in the memo section.

Photo: Mary Lynne Calhoun at the 2014 dedication of the atrium named in her honor; it is located in the building that houses the Cato College of Education.