Greetings – Dean’s Message August 2010

Dear all,

A hearty welcome to all new students who have chosen to travel the next part of their educational journey with us. We hope it is as rewarding as you expect it to be. To all students, faculty, academic professionals and staff I hope the new academic year is happy and fulfilling. I know many of you were involved in summer work ensuring that the wheels of our College kept turning smoothly and offering a range of educational activities. Thank you all so much.

Despite the state’s economic woes and the campus’s financial difficulties, our College has become a model for steady movement towards self-reliance – meeting every challenge with extraordinary creativity and enhanced productivity. Thank you to all who have worked so hard to make this a reality. This year I am looking forward to building on this success to ensure that our research and its impact continues to grow and make a difference, and that our students have a memorable experience as we prepare them to be stellar educational leaders. I was very pleased to see that although the U of I might have slipped (temporarily) in the US News and World Report (to 47), it was ranked 25 in the world by the highly regarded Jiao Tong international ranking of universities. We remain truly privileged to be in such a working environment. The issue of faculty reporting and our rankings needs to be tackled head on to make sure our work is properly recognized – Prof Fouad Abd El Khalick has agreed to form a task force this semester to look at ways in which we can improve the way we collect data about our achievements and represent our performance publicly.

I have decided this year to combine the appointed Executive Heads of Department team, the Deans Cabinet and the elected, advisory, College Executive Committee so that we can work closely together in a nimble way to implement the changes we have planned, and to continue repositioning ourselves for a strong future. The new combined group will ensure that the twenty year conversation about making the undergraduate program the responsibility of all Faculty in our College is finally realized. I also aim to ensure that our graduate programs are able to continue to support our graduate students, providing them with an inspiring community of practice. We are also looking forward to the synergies anticipated by combining three departments into the new Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership, creating through this combination an intellectual powerhouse. And of course I also want to mention our four strategic initiatives—the Ubiquitous Learning Institute, the STEM Collaborative, the Forum on the Future of Public Education and the Center for Education in Small Urban Communities—as they continue to aim to make the breakthroughs in educational research and practice for which they were created. This semester they will have a joint drop in space near the Bureau of Research and our Business Office, to meet and plan future projects that involve faculty and students from across our college and community.

Some accolades:
– During this month, Prof Nick Burbules, held the Educational Theory Summer Institute, College of Education – August 16 – 18.
– Two of our faculty where featured as lead stories in Inside Illinois, Professor Debra Bragg, ‘High School and Community Colleges Need to Align Curricula’, and Assistant Professor Jennifer Delaney, ‘Higher Education Funding May Take a Decade or Longer to Recover. Davida Bluhm from career services also had two pieces published in the 2011 Job Search Handbook.
– Prof Fouad Abd El Khalick was selected by Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs from among 100 P&T cases for this year (along with three other faculty members across campus) for special recognition.
– Congratulations to Associate Professor Sharon Tettegah who will be ‘on loan’ to the National Science Foundation as a Program Director for Lifelong Learning Center Cluster, Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings, Directorate for Education and Human Resources.

Well done all!

Also some changes since June 25:
– Jean Johnson and Jack Hehn, return as Interim Co-Directors of the Office of Clinical Experiences, upon the retirement of Cheryll Douglas.
– Dan Morrow, joins us a new Professor of Educational Psychology, transferring from Institute of Aviation Human Factors program.
– Karla Moller has been appointed as Associate Professor on Indefinite Tenure in the Dept. of Curriculum and Instruction.
– Brad Kose, has accepted a new position as an administrator in public schools in Madison, WI.
– Raynika Trent, Visiting Resource and Policy Analyst in the BER, is returning to graduate school in New York City.
– Todd Spinner, Academic Advisor in SAAO, has accepted new position in the School of Chemical Sciences, search impending. Nila Jefford is returning from retirement on September 1 to assist SAAO with advising until the position is filled.
– Andrea Fain – is leaving CTE to accept a new position as Office Manager in a LAS department.
– Linda Herrera will be joining EPS on January 1 as Associate Professor with indefinite tenure.

See attached details of successful research grants – congratulations to all faculty who won these awards and who are working with others to grow our success.

And some practical things: throughout the fall semester, air handling units in the Education Building will be taken off-line and replaced. This will be done in phases in order to minimize disruption to building occupants. As each old air handler is taken down and replaced, a general announcement will be sent to building occupants. Please review the announcements to determine the areas of the building that will be impacted. While the air handler is replaced there will be no heating or cooling in the affected areas. It is anticipated that the replacement cycle will take no longer than two weeks for each unit. In order to assure the effectiveness of the new air handlers, F&S crews will be cleaning vents and replacing diffusers in individual offices and common spaces throughout the building.

I hope that you found time to take a vacation and replenish your spirits. Over summer, I presented a paper ‘The Work of Writing in the Age of its Digital Reproducibility’ at the Interdisciplinary Social Sciences Conference at Cambridge University in the UK. I also visited Cornwall with my grand-daughter as she met her great grandparents for the first time and spent time in my Greek village with my family. I never take for granted the opportunities I have had get to know so many parts of the world, opportunities that few people had even a generation ago, and most people still do not have.

Our new President told the Council of Deans this past week that the University faced the hardest challenges and the steepest climb out of the current situation and that we would not be the same institution at the end of this journey. I nevertheless believe that these are exciting times, presenting as many opportunities as challenges. In this sprit, I have to say it a pleasure to return this new semester. I am looking forward to working with all of you to meet our challenges and revel in our opportunities in the year ahead.

All the best,
Dean Mary Kalantzis

Photo of table and chair near sea.