Greetings – February/March 2011

Dear all,

Not a month goes by that the earth does not remind us of is inexorable power in dramatic and tragic ways – first it was the earthquake in New Zealand, and now the devastation in Japan. Please do not hesitate to contact our office if any of you are connected with folk there and need help. Our hearts go out to you, as it also does to all those in North Africa and other regions feeling the ruptures of human discontent. Given the increasingly awesome power of technology to bring us together we navigate the grief, horror, excitement and delight of global events as if as they were close to home. Our emotional and intellectual capacities to cope are of course strained. However, these forces have enormous implications for our scholarship, pedagogy and curriculum and for the kind of people we prepare as educators for the future.

No matter which specific questions we are working in, broader philosophical and sociological questions beg our consideration. As educators, our goals are transformational and necessarily future oriented. My friend and colleague, Gunther Kress puts it succinctly, suggesting an action orientation for our work:

‘Critique is anchored to the ground of someone’s past agendas; design projects the purposes, interests and desires of the maker into the future. Design is prospective, constructive not deconstructive, utopian and not nostalgic’. Literacy in the New Media Age, Rutledge, London 2003, p.50.

Our University needs to move more quickly forward after having been stalled too long by financial, management and leadership issues. The Chair of the Board of Trustees, Chris Kennedy, has been doing the rounds lately speaking about the plans the Board of Trustees has to reposition us. See President Hogan is also talking to units across campus and as you might know already, is re-visiting us on Tuesday, April 5 from 10:30 a.m. to noon in Room 22.

This past month members of our College delivered another performance bonanza. Most recently, two of our colleagues lifted our profile significantly with their participation in the White House summit on Bullying Prevention. Professors Dorothy Espelage and Philip Rodkin we among seven experts invited to help shape national policy. See…

We know how important emotional well-being is to performance and many of you are contributing to understanding this field in different ways to ensure that the potential of all learners is realized. Well done and thank you. Brendesha Tynes, who is investigating the effects of cyber bullying has also been honored this month by the University of Illinois YWCA at its annual Leadership Luncheon for her outstanding work in race and Internet usage. Congratulations!

Commendation needs to go to another of our faculty members, Associate Professor Eury Bauer , who together with several collaborators across the country and in our College submitted a proposal for a $22 million grant from the US Agency for International Development to improve literacy and numeracy in Rwanda.

Professor Marilyn Parsons along with a number of other institutional partners has also participated in a proposal for USAID’s Higher Education in Leadership Management (HELM) project in Indonesia. This is a five-year grant for a total of $25 million designed to improve university management in Indonesia.

I mention these two proposals because both of these USAID projects are ambitious, complex and relatively new initiatives for our College. It has taken courage, skill, sheer hard work and many long hours to co ordinate these grants and submit them in a timely way. The support provided by the Associate Dean for Research José Mestre and in particular, Jan Schingel, Director of the Bureau, to the faculty involved has again been phenomenal – I gather all learned much in the process.

We also need to recognize the following colleagues for their outstanding scholarly achievement, professional service and public impact.

  • Hua-Hua Chang for being this year’s recipient of AERA Division D’s Significant Contribution to Educational Measurement and Research Methodology Award for his publication: Chang, H.-H., & Ying, Z. (2009). ‘Nonlinear sequential designs for logistic item response theory models with applications to computerized adaptive testing’ Annals of Statistics, 37, 1466-1488. He received this award because his publication was regarded as one that made a significant contribution to the advancement of the theory and practice of educational measurement and is likely to make a major impact on the field. This is a real honor and heralds much to come.
  • Barbara Hug was selected to receive the Campus Undergraduate Teaching Award.
  • Another three of our colleagues whose own scholarship is very highly regarded have also been recognized by AERA as outstanding reviewers for their work in 2010: Professor Sarah Lubienski, for Educational Researcher; Professor Lizanne Destefano for the Review of Educational Research and Assistant Professor Joseph Robinson, for Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. Joe has also received strong commendation from his students for his teaching expertise and their fulsome appreciation for the benefits they feel they received from attending his classes.
  • Professor Debra Bragg continues to be a thought leader whose ideas have a powerful influence of public policy. See a feature on her $1.2 million NSF project examining applied baccalaureate degree program. Debra and her team also hosted in February the ‘Scaling up Pathways to Results’ conference with was co-hosted with the Illinois Community Colleges Board. This event brought together state and federal policy makers, scholars and practitioners from across the nation. Included among the powerful and distinguished speakers was another of our colleagues, Associate Professor Don Hackman and our graduate students, Jason Taylor, Jason Swanson and Stacy Bennett.
  • Assistant Dean Vanna Pianfetti led a partnership between The Curriculum, Technology and Education Reform (CTER) Online Program & WILL Illinois Public Media to host a prescreening of the documentary: Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century.  The documentary dives into cutting-edge educational and cognitive research to explore how increasingly powerful forms of digital media impact today’s learner. It is wonderful to see the level of engagement of so many faculty, APs and staff with issues related to the new technologies in learning.
  • Congratulations to Chris Roegge for organizing our 6th Annual Illinois Teaching Collaborative Induction and Mentoring program (INCTC) in Springfield. He and his team are doing a great job increasing participation in this initiative from across the State as well as harnessing the interest and support of Senior Springfield administrators and State Farm Insurance for teachers in their early years of service in classrooms. It was interesting to hear the keynote speaker Professor Richard Ingersoll, explain that the real crisis in the system is that of teacher drop-out across the nation. He provided compelling data about the positive impact of sustained, sound mentoring and induction on teacher retention and performance as well as student progress. So we need the work of INTC to grow and to be more closely integrated into our own offerings.
  • Thank you to all who attended my talk for the Niagara Foundation and the Intercultural Friendship Foundation luncheon forum series “Perspectives on educational reform and its recent outcomes” Future talks feature Arthur Culver, Superintendent, Champaign Unit 4 Schools (Apr 8, Friday) on “Diversity and education in Unit 4 Schools” and Chancellor Robert Easter topic and date to be confirmed.
  • The following sixteen women from our college were recognized by the Inclusive Illinois program for their demonstration of excellence through their services to our university: Carolyn Anderson, Eury Bauer, Debra Bragg, Antonia Darder, Rochelle Gutierrez, Violet Harris, Nancy Herzog, Mary Kalantzis, Lillian Katz, Jane Loeb, Chris Mayo, Helen Neville, Yoon Pak, Rosa Santos Gilberts, Sharon Tettegah, Brendisha Tynes.

Congratulations on the production of five new books that demonstrate the breadth and quality of our scholarship:

  • Cameron McCarthy, Heather Greenhalgh-Spencer. Robert Mejia, Editors, ‘New Times: Making Sense of Critical Cultural Theory in a Digital Age’,  Peter Lang, New York, 2011
  • Michael Peters, ‘Apocalyptic Thinking, Philosophy and Education in the Twenty first Century’, Peter Lang, New York, 2011
  • Helen Neville, Margaret Browne Hunt, and Jorge Chapa, Editors, ‘Implementing Diversity: Contemporary Challenges and Best Practices at Predominately White Universities’, University of Illinois Press, Urbana-Champaign, 2010
  • Klinton W. Alexander and Kern Alexander, ‘Higher Education Law: Policy and Perspectives’. Rutledge, New York, 2011
  • Bill Cope, Mary Kalantzis and Liam Magee, ‘Towards a Semantic Web: Connecting Knowledge in Academic Research’, Chandos Publishing, Oxford, 2011

Finally, two very significant College-wide tasks have now been completed and reports submitted – the Administrative Reorganization Task Force Report and Teacher Preparation Program Redesign. Both of these tasks were challenging and complex. Our gratitude to all involved – see list below. The reports and recommendations have now been discussed a number of times by CEC and CODE. We are in the process of aligning the advice received from each body, considering what sort of decisions are appropriate and the mechanism by which they might be implemented. This work is vital to our future and we need to make sure all decisions are in the best interest of our College and our future. I can report already that whilst some recommendations seem straightforward and timely there are a few that I believe require some further consultation with particular stakeholders so that we are confident we are moving in the right direction. An update on all elements of our strategic plan and implementation plans, including further broader consultation, is being prepared for College-wide circulation and discussion at our Annual Spring Faculty meeting on Thursday, May 5 from 2-4 p.m. in the Heritage Room at the ACES library.

Please also note that our Campus Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) budget meeting is scheduled for April 21st.

Attendees include, myself as the Dean, Assistant Dean for Administration & Finance/Director Budget Office, Barb Geissler, Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Richard Wheeler, Vice Provost, Barb Wilson, Associate Provost for Budgets and Resource Planning, Mike Andrechak, and a number of CBOC members. You will be as pleased as I am that we have managed to turn around our financial circumstances with stellar scholarship, innovation and collaborative effort on all fronts – having met and exceeded all the goals we set in teaching, research, service and gifts. As a consequence, we are now in a situation where we are recruiting again in a number of key areas. Strength and wisdom to all of you who are involved in these processes. We are also anticipating a salary review program this year that will allow us to provide, albeit modest, well-deserved salary rises.

I hope Spring break provides you some time to catch up on both the backlog of work we all seem to accumulate, and also the pleasures of more leisurely time for reflection.

All the best

Dean Mary Kalantzis

Photo of Bullying Prevention Conference, DC

Bullying Prevention Conference, DC

Thank you to all the following members of our College for their service:

The Administrative Restructuring Task Force Members:

  • Scott Johnson
  • Jose Mestre
  • Tom Schwandt
  • Russ Korte
  • Karrie Shogren
  • Joe Robinson
  • Barb Geissler
  • Susan Michaels

The Re-envisioning Teacher Preparation Task Force Members:

  • Associate Professor Susan Noffke, C&I, co-chair
  • Associate Professor Lisa Monda-Amaya, Special Education, co-chair
  • Ms. Cheryll Douglas, Office of Clinical Experiences
  • Associate Professor Stacy Dymond, SPED
  • Ms. Suzanne Lee, LBSI Coordinator, Special Education (on behalf of Stacy when she was on sabbatical)
  • Professor Janet Gaffney, Special Education
  • Professor Jennifer Greene, Educational Psychology
  • Assistant Professor Chris Higgins, EPS
  • Assistant Professor Russell Korte, HRE
  • Associate Dean Ann Mester, College of LAS
  • Professor Margery Osborne, C&I
  • Assistant Dean Evangeline Pianfetti, Office of the Chief Information Officer
  • Clinical Assistant Professor Linda Sloat, EOL
  • Associate Professor Christopher Span, EPS, Dean’s Fellow
  • Ms. Phyllis Vanlandingham, Education and LAS
  • Professor Arlette I. Willis, C&I
  • Professor Stafford Hood, C&I, co-facilitator
  • Dr. Chris Roegge, Council on Teacher Education, co-facilitator