Myrna Olson, Ed.D.
Higher Education Program
Department of Teaching and Learning
University of North Dakota
Education Building, Rm 270
231 Centennial Dr. Stop 7189
Grand Forks, North Dakota 58202
Dr. Myrna R. Olson is a Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of North Dakota, where she has taught for the past 42 years. Originally from North Dakota, she lived in Montana from 1968-1971, completing a Bachelor’s Degree at Northern Montana College in Science Education and a Master’s of Education from Montana State University in Secondary Education and Biology. She taught two years at the Montana State School for the Deaf and Blind before returning to North Dakota to teach at the North Dakota School for the Blind for three additional years.
Myrna began her work toward her doctorate at UND in 1973, serving as a graduate teaching assistant for two years prior to the Special Education program hiring her as a faculty member in 1975. Since that time, she completed post-doctoral work in visual impairment and blindness at San Francisco State University as well as post-doctoral work in multiple disabilities at Peabody Vanderbilt College. Myrna initiated the teacher preparation program in Blindness and Visual Impairment at UND and directed that program for 25 years. Additional areas in which Myrna has taught include early childhood education, emotional and behavior disorders, gifted education, and higher education. She served as Chair of Special Education for 12 years and as Coordinator of the Teaching and Learning Doctoral Program for six years. She currently teaches several doctoral level courses that are focused on the preparation of college teachers and coordinates the College Teaching Certificate Program.
Research interests across Myrna’s career include: Methods of teaching braille reading; exploratory and play behavior of children with blindness or visual impairment; hypnotherapy techniques with the learning disabled; dispositional suitability of students for the field of special education; the experiences of teachers who identify as gay or lesbian in U.S. schools; utilization of a dog in a classroom for students with severe emotional and behavioral disorders; effect of music on behavior of children in an elementary school lunchroom; successful single parents; characteristics and behavior of women who survive life-altering crises; characteristics of effective school leaders; the experiences of faculty and students with technology in the classroom; and the examination of college student mental health as it relates to their use of technology.
The source of Myrna’s greatest joy in life has been raising two sons. Nathan holds a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and has taught middle school, served as a high school activities director and as a technology partner. His wife, Liz, is a pediatric physical therapist. Austin is on target to complete his Ph.D. in Teaching and Learning in the area of Instructional Design and Technology in the fall of 2016. He and I provide childcare intermittently during the school year to Nathan and Liz’s two sons (Kellen (5) and Palmer (3) as well as in the summer. The photo is of me with my two grandsons.