Matthew Lambert granted title of Docent at University of Eastern Finland

Matthew Lambert

Matthew Lambert granted title of Docent at University of Eastern Finland

22 Aug 2018     By Kelcey Buck

University of Nebraska-Lincoln associate professor Matthew Lambert was recently granted the title of Docent at the University of Eastern Finland. 

As a docent, Lambert has a formal appointment with the University of Eastern Finland and has many of the rights and responsibilities of a professor, including teaching graduate-level courses as well as serving on or chairing doctoral and dissertation committees. The title of docent is typically awarded to a faculty member who has substantially contributed to a European university, but who is not employed by that university. Thus, docents allow a university to expand their scholarly expertise by appointing faculty members from other universities who have demonstrated substantial impact in a certain area of research. 

“I consider it quite an honor for the faculty at the University of Eastern Finland to grant me the title of docent in recognition of my many years of successful collaboration with faculty and students at the University,” Lambert said. “And, of course, I’m excited to continue my work with UEF in this new role.” 

Lambert, a faculty member in Nebraska’s Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders, has worked with faculty from the University of Eastern Finland since 2012 when he was a postdoctoral fellow in what is now the Academy for Child and Family Well Being. 

“When I joined UNL in 2011 as a postdoctoral fellow, I had the opportunity to work closely with Dr. Michael Epstein,” Lambert explained. “Dr. Epstein had worked for several years with a group of Finnish colleagues in multiple capacities, including as a Senior Fulbright Specialist. Soon after I began working with Dr. Epstein, several of his Finnish colleagues visited the United States for the 2012 Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) conference, and also made a trip to UNL. That was my first opportunity to work directly with Finnish academicians.” 

After that initial meeting, Lambert collaborated with them on a large-scale, longitudinal study of the behavioral and emotional well-being of Finnish school children. Following that project, Lambert was invited to visit the University of Eastern Finland in Joensuu, Finland, which he did in 2012. 

Since that first trip, he has returned to Finland on two more occasions, once in 2014 and again as a Fulbright Specialist in 2016. During each of those visits, Lambert taught courses, worked with doctoral students, and collaborated with colleagues, both established and new. He will make his third visit, and first as a docent, to the University of Eastern Finland this academic year. 

Over the course of the six years since his first interaction with his Finnish colleagues, Lambert has collaborated with them to publish seven peer-reviewed research articles and a Finnish assessment of child behavioral and emotional well-being. The group is currently working on norming an assessment used to screen Finnish children for the risk of behavioral disorders.

Lambert said faculty and administrators at the University of Eastern Finland encouraged him to apply for the title of docent after his visit in 2016. He described the process as being similar to that of tenure and promotion at Nebraska. Lambert began by developing a set of materials summarizing his educational background, research agenda, teaching experiences, and service activities. Two Finnish professors outside of the University of Eastern Finland reviewed and evaluated those materials. Next came a vote by the Philosophical Faculty, which includes the School of Educational Sciences and Psychology, School of Humanities, School of Applied Educational Science and Teacher Education, and School of Theology, followed by approval from the Dean of the Philosophical Faculty and higher administration of the University of Eastern Finland.

Special Education and Communication Disorders