Dean’s Message – March/April 2011

Dear all,

The Friday before the Spring break I managed to get a terrible cold, which I have not yet been able to throw off. I do hope you escaped such a fate. Of course, my travel commitments only exacerbated my symptoms. Nonetheless, Bill and I met with Professor Eugenia Koleza from the University of Patra and a group of math teachers who are piloting, as part of a national professional learning initiative, a Greek language version of our Multiliteracies-inspired, Learning By Design web tools. (Picture below).

We also attended a Common Ground conference on Technology, Knowledge and Society, in partnership with Universidad del País Vasco – Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea (University of The Basque Country), in Bilbao. What is most interesting about this historically contentious part of the world is just how much better they have managed to do than the rest of Spain during the current economic downturn. The things that stood out for me as part of their success were strong investments in the following four areas: 1) high quality, iconic, cultural institutions; 2) worker cooperatives for major industries; 3) education; and 4) new technologies and entrepreneurship. It is amazing how a rather drab industrial town has been transformed. Whilst there, we also negotiated with Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Communication, Alfonso Unceta (previously the Director of Universities and Deputy Councilor for Education of the Basque Government) to trial a Basque language version of our Learning by Design tools in a number of local schools that focus on both innovation and maintaining the Basque language.

There is of course a great flurry across our College at the moment as we all prepare for AERA. We have 110 members of our community participating in some way as presenters or providing their professional services to AERA’s policy, scholarship and publications agenda.

We are delighted that our College is also being represented by three AERA presidential sessions and a number of other invited round table and governance sessions. You can also get an AERA app for your phone or iPad.

  • Presidential Session
    Professor James Anderson, The Legal and Social Construction of Race History and Politics of Latinos in Education, Saturday 9 Sheraton, Third Level, Napoleon Ballroom B3 10:35 am to 12:05 pm
  • Presidential Session; Invited Roundtable
    Professor James Anderson, Men of Color in Academe: The Need and Roles That Must Be Undertaken and Sustained. James D. Anderson, University of Illinois – Urbana- Sheraton, Fifth Level, Grand Ballroom A 4:05 pm to 6:05 pm
  • Presidential Session
    Professors Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzis, Beyond New London: Literacy Learning and the Design of Social Futures. Saturday April 9. Sheraton, Third Level, Napoleon Ballroom C2 8:15 am to 10:15 am.

I have also been notified that I have been elected as chair-elect of AERA Organization of Institutional Affiliates, (OIA) committee along with new members, Geraldo Gonzalez (Indiana University) and Dee Hopkins (West Virginia University) who were elected as at-large members. Professor Bill Cope begins his two year tenure as Chair of AERA’s Publications Committee. As I am sure you appreciate, both of us are honored that our expertise has been recognized and harnessed in this way and we hope, that we can use effectively what you have taught us about the US academy these past five years.

It has been a delight in the lead up to this important gathering of our scholarly community to participate in the second Graduate Student Conference. It was very heartening to note the spirit signaled by our graduate students when they named the event  “Re-claiming our Graduate Experience”. Our students have certainly come a long way and share with me ambitions to make this event a premier one for all of us. I want to thank sincerely all the students, faculty and staff who helped and participated. I will be debriefing with those involved to consider how we can continue to improve this inspiring initiative. Your feedback and support for our students is appreciated.

The combining of the graduate student conference with the honoring of our distinguished alumni and the meeting of our Board of Visitors, as you can imagine, made for complex co-ordination. Thank you to all for the extra effort and the goodwill that made sure things went as smoothly and elegantly as they did. The effect of course was to strengthen each event as our distinguished alums got to know our students, our students benefited from their wisdom, and our Board of Visitors were refreshed in their commitment to our mission. In fact, the Visitors agreed to create a special pool of funds to increase support for student scholarships and for our building fund.

We can also announce the following new gifts.

A representative of the  Wheeler Foundation, located in Danville who attended our most recent Goldstick lecture consequently worked with our Advancement team and the Head of SPED to negotiate an annual gift of $14,000 to be used for scholarships in support of SPED students who, upon graduation, plan to go on to work with developmentally-disabled students in classroom settings.

Ms. Dorothy Fletcher, an alumna of the University, passed away at age 101, leaving an estate gift of $100,000 to the College in support of scholarships.  Ms. Fletcher had already established the Dorothy E. Fletcher Scholarship Fund in the College, a $100,000 endowed scholarship in her name.  This most recent estate gift was made to establish another endowed scholarship in the College, the Charles E. and Nora D. Fletcher Fund, in memory of Ms. Fletcher’s parents.

There are many congratulations again that need to be expressed.

To all our Distinguished Alumni Award winners.

•    Dr. Marlene Schommer-Aikins
•    Susan Connor
•    Dr. Susan X Day
•    Dr. Deirdre Cobb-Roberts
•    Dr. Chris Roegge
•    Dr. Nick Smith

To our Graduate Student Conference planning committee, participating faculty, BER and all other staff.

•    Gianina Baker, EPOL
•    Christine (Seung Won) Hong, EPOL
•    Yusuf Incetas, Curriculum and Instruction
•    Jenna Chi Kim, Educational Psychology
•    Julie Pickens, Special Education
•    Alicia Robinson, EPOL

To our 2011 Outstanding Student Medal winners, awarded in partnership with Education Alumni Associated.

•    Travis Wilson—Ph.D, Education Psychology
•    Erin Olinger—Master’s, Special Education
•    Kristy Treven—Bachelors, Special Education

To those in our College who have been recognized by their peers with the following awards.

•    Dr. Mark Dressman – Dean’s Breakthroughs Initiative Prize for Faculty
•    Dr. Timothy Cain – Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award (teaching)
•    Dr. Sarah McCarthey – Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award (advising)
•    Dr. Lisa Monda-Amaya – Outstanding Faculty Award for Service
•    Ms. Kathy McCormick – Outstanding Academic Professional Excellence Award
•    Ms. Helen Katz – Distinguished Staff Award
•    Ms. Sonya Irving – Outstanding Teaching Award for Teaching Assistants

Congratulations also to Associate Professor, Gloriana Gonzalez whose research has received funding from the Campus Research Board.

Professor Arlette Willis also notified me that a former Secondary English Education student was the WGN teacher of the month, Colleen Mostyn.

Professor Susan Noffke and Vanna Pianfetti, were featured in Postmarks (p10) with a story called ‘Re-envisioning Teacher Education with Digital Tools’.

The Daily Illini ran a story about our ‘Assess You Go’ Project on their front page.

Finally, you will be pleased to find out that we have been given campus approval to pursue a STEM hire in the new academic year. Another sign of confidence in our College!

Looking forward to seeing many of you at our U of I reception in New Orleans.
(Apr 9,  7:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Gallery Room, Sheraton New Orleans on Canal St.)

In preparation to visiting New Orleans again I have been watching Spike Lee’s 2006 documentary, ‘When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts’. It sure is harrowing – hard to comprehend what we tolerate or are prepared to forget, so repeatedly. See utube extract from part 1.

All the best,
Dean Mary Kalantzis

Graduate Student Conference

Patra – LearningByDesign meeting