These longer Spring daylight hours certainly are a delight – particularly as we observe new leaves bursting forth almost by the hour – it never ceases to fill me with awe.
Not a month goes by without new dramatic events on the world scene, political, social and natural, that raise questions for our lives. The often convoluted and discordant public discourse that follows can be mind-numbing. It seems though that much of world is happy to stop for a royal wedding. Can we too afford to pause and think these things through, to consider what we do and its relevance to the unfolding world of our time?
As I have said so many times, we are privileged to be working in a place that allows us not only to be reflective about the world but also to create new knowledge and practices that can intervene to improve it. Menah Pratt-Clarke, Associate Chancellor and Director Office of Equal Opportunity and Access asked each College to produce a five-minute video about their orientation to Diversity. As straightforward as this might sound, this semester is not an easy time for extra tasks like this that need high production values. So, you can imagine how pleased and grateful we were when we were able to bring together a group last week (spontaneously, calling on folk who just happened to be in the building at that time) and in just matter of hours we produced our contribution to meet the deadline. It is testimony to the expertise, good will and professionalism of all in our College and the fact that that at any time we can call upon you to provide a service to the College and be confident of its quality. We produced 25 minutes of footage that then had to be reduced to the following 5 minutes video.
I would also like to commend another group who have, for over ten years now, been offering our College their expertise for free. The student-led QUERIES Consulting Group in the Department of Educational Psychology has been providing many hours of consultation to more than 50 scholars from across the College on a wide range of topics including evaluation, survey design, mixed methods research, data management, psychometric scale construction, statistical analysis, and general troubleshooting in research. Thank you all.
Thank you also to Ryan Thomas and all those involved in attending to the service interruption that occurred as a consequence of a hardware malfunction last week. Plans are being prepared to ensure that this does not recur on the scale that we experienced. The patience of all members of our College community during this period was much appreciated.
Sincere and fulsome congratulations to Professor Arlette Willis who is the Vice-President Elect of the Literacy Research Association (formerly the National Reading Council). This is an outstanding honor of Arlette and testimony to her capacity to influence the national agenda in this critical arena. I understand that Associate Professor Eury Bauer currently serves as a Board Member of the LRA. Together I am sure they will make a significant difference.
AERA is another Association where our College is well positioned to make meaningful system contributions by those serving in editorial or leadership roles in the publications arena. Many of our colleagues also play vital roles as reviewers, members of executive groups and SIG’s that shape AERA’s agenda. (AERA Reviewers/Editors 2011) Please let me know who is involved in these ways, as we plan to make this professional service a feature of our next College Annual Profile report.
I have been informed that Blanca Rincon, a Graduate Research Assistant in EPOL and Casey George-Jackson a Visiting Project Manager in EPOL, also received a very honorable mention from AERA when their posters were ranked third from over 50 that were exhibited. Hearty congratulations to both.
Our scholars’ ideas continue to make a powerful impact. For example, this past month, Richard D. Kahlenberg from The New Republic wrote another review of Professor Chris Lubienski and Peter Weitzel’s book, “The Charter School Experiment” under the title, “Popular, Bipartisan, and Mediocre”. The work that Chris and Peter are doing to help us understand the phenomenon of Charter Schools is timely indeed, particularly as public schools are being attacked so persistently.
The Anderson Cooper 360 program on CNN invited Professor Dorothy Espelage to offer expert comment on the grand jury indictment of the Rutgers students who webcammed their roommate, who subsequently committed suicide. By chance I happened to catch the segment and was very proud of what I saw and heard. Well done, Dorothy. We hope your knowledge about this vexing issue of bullying will help people understand its dire effects and arm them with the tools to intervene positively.
Professor Sarah Lubienski’s and Assistant Professor Joe Robinson’s work on gaps between boys and girls in reading and math scores was featured in Inside Illinois. Their findings that teachers need to be more aware of these trends and intervene earlier, matters so much for students.
See also the story Illinois Public Media did on the excellent of work of members of our Center for Education in Small Urban Communities in collaboration with the Washington Elementary School in Champaign. It is always exhilarating to see examples of the strong and creative partnerships growing with the teachers and students of our local schools.
Please also note that the Sixth Annual GeoJam, organized by Associate Professor Rochelle Gutierrez and Jen Binder, Math Class 2011 is to be held May 12, 2011. The GeoJam competition is designed to re-engage students and their families from the Champaign community who may not yet have an appreciation for school mathematics. You are all warmly invited to share the experience.
It is always very meaningful to me to be able to share with you the ways we are being supported by our alumni. Their generosity really makes such a difference to our capacity to fulfill our mission. This month we can announce that Mrs. Barbara J. Benway and her deceased spouse, Russel E. Benway have provided an unrestricted deferred gift of $2.5 million to be shared equally among the College of ACES, the University Library and our College of Education. We thank them sincerely for making us part of their legacy.
Please note that we have scheduled a Brown Bag Town Hall meeting, Tuesday May 7 in Room 242 from noon to 1pm to talk about teacher education in our College. You have already received a copy of the report of the Teacher Redesign Task Force and I am also providing you with a copy of a timely interview Chris Roegge did for the Campus, ‘A Minute with Chris Roegge‘, about the historic education reform bill, Senate Bill 7, passed unanimously in April by the Illinois Senate.
As our academic year comes towards its completion it is time for us to take stock of our achievements and consider our future commitments. I am looking forward to seeing you at our Faculty meeting on Thursday to update our plans and acknowledge our success. And, of course, I want to welcome you to join me at the reception at my home afterwards.
All the best,