Marjorie Kostelnik


Marjorie Kostelnik

Professor and Faculty Ombud

Marjorie J. Kostelnik is a professor in the Department of Child, Youth and Family Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her academic foci are children’s social and emotional development, child guidance, and eco-systemic approaches to educating early childhood professionals. She is also one of two faculty Ombuds at UNL.

Dr. Kostelnik has been involved in developing cross-disciplinary education programs—and new ways of organizing academic and human service efforts in higher education and the community—for over 35 years. She has worked with many organizations as they transitioned through change—including reorganization; budget, program and staff; and adapting successfully to rapidly shifting environments. Most recently, she served as senior associate to the President of the University of Nebraska, leading the implementation of university-wide efforts to realize efficiencies and cost reductions across service areas, while also protecting the quality of education on all four campuses of the University of Nebraska. This assignment was completed in 2019. Prior to that she served as Interim Vice Chancellor of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln for one year. 

Marjorie came to UNL in 2000 as dean of the College of Human Resources and Family Sciences. In 2003, Human Resources and Family Sciences partnered with Teachers College to become one of the first colleges of Education and Human Sciences in the country. She served as dean of CEHS from 2003-2017. During her tenure, the college experienced strong growth in undergraduate and graduate enrollments, significant increases in scholarly/creative accomplishments among faculty and students, rapid advancement in the college’s national rankings, as well as international study abroad and/or multinational research programs implemented within every department. 

Graduating with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Health Related Professions, Marjorie entered the field as a Head Start teacher, then went on to receive her master’s degree and doctorate in Human Development and Family Studies from Penn State, with a specialization in program design and evaluation as well as early childhood education. 

Kostelnik was on the faculty at Michigan State for 22 years, serving as a professor and program supervisor of the Child Development Laboratories and then as chair of the Department of Family and Child Ecology. During this time, she worked with educators in 100+ programs inside and outside the United States designing developmentally appropriate curriculum, helping to enhance children’s school readiness, and working with teachers and administrators to develop positive child guidance strategies. 

The author of 60 articles/chapters and 23 books, Dr. Kostelnik is a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Early Childhood Research and Practice and the Asia-Pacific Journal of Research in Early Childhood Education. Nationally, she has served as vice president of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, as a member of the Board on Human Sciences, and chair of the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance. She is past chair of the Great Plains IDEA Cabinet, a governing group for more than 50 universities who provide master’s degrees through distance education to students worldwide. Starting in 2014, she served on the National Academies of Science Institute of Medicine Committee to Study the Science of Children Birth to Age 8. From 2017 through 2020 Kostelnik was co-chair with Dr. Sam Meisels of the Nebraska Early Childhood Workforce Commission.  Locally, she serves as chair of the Educare-Lincoln Board of Directors (early education, birth to age 5), the Dimensions Foundation Board (nature education), and as co-chair of the Lincoln Prosper Early Childhood initiative. 

Recent Publications

  • Kostelnik, M. J. (2019) Framing an education research agenda of the Great Plains: A higher education scenario. Great Plains Research. Vol. 29, (1), 1-16.

  • Kostelnik, M. J., Soderman, A. K., Whiren, A. P., and Rupiper, M. (2019). Developmentally appropriate curriculum: Best practices in early childhood education. 7e Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

  • Kostelnik, M. J., Soderman, A. K., Whiren, A. P., and Rupiper, M. L. (2018). Guiding children’s social development and learning: Theory and skills. 9e, Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.

  • Kostelnik, M. J. (2017). What child development laboratories need to do to thrive: An administrator’s perspective In N. Barbour & B. A. McBride (Eds.). The future of child development laboratory schools: Applied developmental science in action. NY: Routledge, 95-112

  • Pedersen, J.E, Kunz, G., Kostelnik, M.J. & Doll, B. (2016). “A model for mentoring new faculty members: One College’s Approach.” In K. C. Mansfield, A. D. Welton, & P. L. Lee (Eds) Identity intersectionalities, mentoring, and work-life (im)balance: Educators (re)negotiate the personal, professional, and political. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc. 239-252.

  • Committee on the Science of Children Birth to age 8: Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. (2015) Transforming the workforce for children birth through age 8: A unifying foundation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. 

Professional Highlights

Honors and Recognition
Gamma Sigma Delta Distinguished Achievement in Agriculture AwardLouise Pound-George Howard Distinguished Career AwardSally Wysong Lifetime Achievement Award for Service to Children and FamiliesState of Nebraska Public Sector Boss of the Year AwardNeAEYC Lifetime Achievement Award for Service to ChildrenSchool of Education Outstanding Alumni Award, University of PittsburghUNOPA, UNL Boss of the YearMSU: Administrator of the YearNational Public Service Award, American Society for Public AdministrationOutstanding Faculty Member of the Year, Michigan State Senior Class Council College of Human Ecology Outreach AwardMichigan Excellence in Teaching Award, State of Michigan LegislatureExpert in Residence/Battle Creek Public Schools, W. K. Kellogg FoundationMichigan State University Teacher/Scholar Award