Dr. Sherry K. Watt

Dr. Sherry K. Watt, professor, joined the University of Iowa’s Higher Education and Student Affairs faculty as an assistant professor in August 2000. Sherry previously worked as an assistant professor in Student Affairs Administration at Radford University. Prior to becoming a faculty member, she worked as a residence life director and a career counselor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, North Carolina State University, and Shaw University. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a master's and doctoral degree in Counselor Education, with an emphasis in student affairs, from North Carolina State University. In addition to her academic degrees, she holds a counseling license in the state of North Carolina.

Dr. Watt’s research focuses on the identity development of college students. Currently, she investigates participant reactions to difficult dialogues on race, sexual orientation, and disability. She is the guest editor of the 2007 special issue of the College Student Affairs Journal entitled: Difficult Dialogues: Privilege and Social Justice in Student Affairs Practice. She has been a member of the editorial board for the Journal of College Student Development. She is one of the co-editors of the New Directions in Student Services series.

Dr. Watt is also a Courage and Renewal Facilitator. The Center for Courage & Renewal, developed with the author, educator, and activist Parker J. Palmer, helps to foster personal and professional renewal through retreats that offer the time and space to reflect on life and work. As a member of this distinguished group, Dr. Watt applies her expertise as a facilitator to designing and leading workshops for social justice educators who facilitate difficult dialogues intended to eradicate social oppression (racism, sexism, heterosexism, etc.). She has received several awards in recognition of her teaching and scholarship, including Radford University’s Chi Sigma Iota Outstanding Teacher Award. In addition, she is an Annuit Coeptis award recipient, an Emerging Scholar, and a Senior Scholar within the ACPA College Student Educators International (ACPA). Dr. Watt has also received three prestigious awards honoring both her service related to diversity efforts as well as her teaching, namely, she was awarded the 2006 College of Education’s Audrey Qualls Commitment to Diversity Award and she is the University of Iowa recipient of the Collegiate Teaching Award in both 2006 and 2013. Dr. Watt’s research and teaching interests include environmental assessment, multiculturalism, psychosocial and identity theory, and spirituality in student affairs practice.

Dr. Watt is in her 20th year as a faculty member in the University of Iowa’s Higher Education and Student Affairs program. She continues to do research that explores the reactions individuals have to difficult dialogues on race, sexual orientation, and disability. She is an editor and chapter author of a book entitled Designing Transformative Multicultural Initiatives: Theoretical Foundations, Practical Applications and Facilitator Considerations (2015). She has also created an instrument development study that expands upon her research on the Privileged Identity Exploration Model (2007). She and her research team are currently working on two book projects that are informed by her most recent scholarly work on The Theory of Being (Watt, Forthcoming).  Dr. Watt has over 25 years of experience in designing and leading educational experiences that involve strategies to engage participants in a dialogue that is meaningful, passionate, and self-awakening.