Colangelo steps down as director of UI Belin-Blank Honors Center


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Although the new year will bring a name change to the University of Iowa’s Belin-Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development, life will continue as usual for most of the center.

Nicholas Colangelo will step down from his job as director of the center, and Susan Assouline, the associate director, will become the new director effective Jan. 1.

“It feels like it’s time,” Colangelo said. “It’s been a number of years. I wanted to make sure I stepped down in a way that would make a very smooth transition.”

Assouline has worked with the center for 22 years.

“I am really excited about it,” she said. “I feel ready.”

The Belin-Blank Center works with an international gifted community, which includes teachers, students, and parents. The students have not yet entered their college years. The center was officially founded in 1988, and it will celebrate its 25th anniversary in July.

Since its inception, the center has raised roughly $41 million and worked with more than 500,000 students in summer programs.

“It’s been a lot of success,” Colangelo said.

To make sure the transition goes off without a hitch, he will remain on staff for another year as a full-time faculty member.

“I’ll continue doing what I can to help support the center,” he said.

Colangelo has complete faith Assouline can do a good job as director.

“I couldn’t be happier to have her as the new director,” he said.  “I have a ton of confidence in her.”

The center’s faculty agree, and they believe that the transition is a natural change.

“We’re going to have a greater sense of continuity than change,” said Laurie Croft, an administrator for professional development. “It’s a very natural evolution.”

Assouline hopes to continue the work the Belin-Blank Center has succeeded with.

“I am going to continue our legacy of high levels of energy, enthusiasm, and optimism for serving gifted students,” she said.

Colangelo is also confident the center can continue its reputation for excellence under the leadership of Assouline.

“It’s been a rewarding and exciting 25 years,” he said. “I’m really proud of the center, and I’m confident it will continue in very vibrant ways.”

Assouline sees more growth on the horizon.

“I want to see growth in our clinic services for twice-exceptional students, close alignment of STEM with the state of Iowa STEM initiative, and enhancing our presence on the international front,” she said. “We’re hoping to in the very near future have programs for students in India.”

Even though the director of the center is changing, Assouline believes there will not be large changes to the center just because she has a new title.

“There will be new things that will happen, but it won’t be because it wasn’t there before — it will be because the time is now right for these new programs and services,” she said.

Croft said Assouline has been active within the center before she was promoted.

“Some of the new directions we’ve been going — she’s been more associated with those anyway,” Croft said.

As Colangelo prepares to step down, he is thankful for his experience.

“I’ve met a lot of superb people — the staff, teachers, students, and parents,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

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