Knowing her body was losing its two-year battle against cancer, Kathleen Luttenegger, Ph.D., professor of Elementary Education and Literacy at Metropolitan State University of Denver, dedicated herself to one more goal – providing future educators with access to the resources they need to carry on her love of learning and teaching.
Two months before passing away peacefully at her home in Littleton on April 22, 2022, Luttenegger, 51, established the Dr. Kathleen C. Luttenegger Legacy in Teaching Endowment. The scholarship fund will support the dreams of students who have overcome significant obstacles and circumstances to pursue a degree in Elementary Education at MSU Denver.
Luttenegger joined the University as a School of Education faculty member in 2003. Throughout her 19-year career as a Roadrunner, she shared her passion for education with hundreds of students in and outside the classroom on their journeys to becoming teachers.
School of Education Dean Elizabeth Hinde, Ph.D., says Luttenegger was dedicated to teaching and learning, ensuring her students received the absolute best education possible.
“Kathleen’s unwavering focus on students made her an excellent teacher, advisor, scholar and colleague – she set the bar high,” said Hinde. “We are sad to no longer see her in her office with students and co-workers, teaching in a classroom or sharing her vast wisdom and wit in meetings.
“She will remain the model of a professional educator for generations to come.”
Krista Griffin, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Elementary Education and Literacy, says Luttenegger’s ability to collaborate, problem-solve and tirelessly do what was best for students made her a great colleague.
“It is difficult to describe how amazing it has been to work with Kathleen,” said Griffin. “Her content expertise and heart for teaching made her a fabulous professor, and her gift for listening — making you feel heard — and providing an often no-nonsense (but always-wise) answer made her a true friend.”
Luttenegger earned her B.A. at Mount Holyoke College, an M.A. in Special Education from Columbia University, an MBA focusing on Educational Administration from the University of Denver and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Colorado Boulder. She was also a National Board Certified Teacher for grades 2-5, and her research interests included connecting field experiences with coursework for preservice teachers and formative assessment practices.
Her family says Luttenegger spent her final months finding joy in all things: snow falling and the sun shining, cats purring and birds singing, a hot chai and delicious dark chocolate, and most importantly, laughing and visiting with friends and family. In a show of tremendous courage and dedication to the field, University and students she loved, Luttenegger also continued teaching online courses once being in the classroom became too difficult.
And while her Roadrunner family dearly misses her, Luttenegger’s generous spirit and enduring legacy will live on through the students, faculty and staff at MSU Denver.