Greetings – May/June Dean’s Message

Dear all,

This is the last of my periodic messages for this academic year. I want to thank you all sincerely for your contributions to what can only be regarded as another remarkable period of achievement. Of course, our College is known for its enduring excellence. Even more remarkable, despite the absence of pay raises for the past few years, the debilitating cuts to our budget, and the hiring freeze, all of which have compelled us do more with less, we have remained true to our mission. So I feel a great sense of pride and fulfillment for having traveled this journey with you again and have learnt much more than I imagined or anticipated was possible. My heartfelt appreciation to all of you who have gone out of your way to guide and support me this past year. And in particular, thank you to all those shining faces that have greeted me so readily in the corridors, offices, classrooms and at the social events we have shared.

As the year ends I am sure you will be as pleased as I am to learn that we have approval to make offers on all our new hire openings – not only the four positions that we had requested in our original hiring plan for this year but an extra one granted as a consequence of the stellar crop of scholars you selected to be interviewed. We have also productively negotiated with LAS to take advantage of a spousal hire. Thank you to all involved in these processes. The influx of new colleagues in the next academic year will be most welcome.

Campus has also officially agreed to fund permanently our Center for Education in Small Urban Communities. This is a truly fantastic outcome in these difficult times and evidence that the campus is aligned with our College’s aspiration to contribute to turning around the performance of learners in our local schools. Many played a role in this outcome but key recognition needs to go to Associate Professor Lisa Monda-Amaya who went beyond the call of duty to work closely with our faculty, district superintendents, collaborating teachers and our local schools teachers to maintain hopefulness and strong, productive relationships.

It is with great pleasure that we can now announce that our esteemed alumni Dr. Betty Chan Po-king has provided a significant gift to create a term chair in Early Childhood Education, in honor of her mentor, Dr. Bernard “Bud” Spodek. Dr. Chan, her husband Professor Paul Yip Kwok-wah and other members of their family, will join us in September 2011 for the formal announcement of their gift and to allow us to recognize and celebrate their generosity. It has been a privilege to get to know Dr. Chan, her family, and colleagues. Their commitment to educating children strong equally in their sense of identity and the skills to be global workers and citizens is truly impressive. Of course many have been involved in this outcome, including Professor Fazal Rizvi, Professor Susan Fowler, Joan Tousey and her advancement team, and our Interim Chancellor Bob Easter. It has been a privilege also for me to get to know Professor Emeritus, Dr. Bernard Spodek better and a delight to be able to honor his work in this way.

I would also like to commend Professor Debra Bragg and her team in the Office of Community College Research and Leadership for hosting the ‘Scaling up Pathways to Results’ meeting, funded by the funded by Illinois Community College Board. Nearly 200 educators and administrators attended and explored the initiatives of 18 local partnerships representing secondary education, postsecondary education, business, and industry, aiming to address achievement gaps among diverse groups in order to improve learning outcomes and provide appropriate programs of study.

Congratulations to Assistant Professor Russ Korte, who received an award from the National Science Foundation to develop and conduct a workshop focused on the philosophical foundations of engineering and engineering education.

Assistant Professor Lorenzo Baber is to be noted for his work on addressing the barriers that discourage minorities from pursuing higher education which was featured by campus news. This work has received the attention of Lt. Governor Sheila Simon and he has been invited to discuss his findings with her – well done indeed.

Professor Micki Ostrosky’s significant study on learning about disabilities and its effects on social acceptance in classrooms has received media coverage.

Professor Johnell Bentz was awarded a Provost’s Initiative on Teaching Advancement grant (PITA) for her project ‘From Lecture Course to Blended Learning: What Can Be Learned from the Process? The aim of the project is to transform a large lecture/discussion class into a blended learning environment with face to face and asynchronous online learning.

The Daily Illini featured a short article online about the disability awareness ‘Boxes and Walls’ exhibit produced by our Special Education students.

Congratulations to Haeny Yoon, Teacher Collaborator at the Center for Education in Small Urban Communities, for being selected as one of ASCD’s 36 emerging leaders for 2011.

Accolades to Anjali Forber-Pratt who broke a world record in the 200m wheelchair race on May 29 at Swiss Nationals. The previous record was set by a Chinese competitor at the 2008 Paralympic Games. Anjali’s determination and strong sense of purpose enabled her to realize another one of her long-held goals.

Lori Herber has accepted a German Chancellor’s Fellowship from the Humboldt Foundation in Germany. She is one of only 10 U.S. recipients who have received this prestigious annual award. This honor enables her to live in Germany for a year and to produce a journalistic project of her own design, documenting education equity issues for Turkish immigrants. Congratulations indeed – we will certainly miss her skills and generous spirit but wish her all the very best.

I hope you all enjoyed our graduation ceremony this year as much as I did. Huff Hall erupted into applause when our graduates entered. It was wonderful also to see so many of our faculty traveling the whole distance with their students. This is testimony to how much we value and admire their successes – congratulations and well done all! I hope too that you were able to read the moving News Gazette feature story about Rufina Cortez, who also works as a Research Assistant in our Bureau of Educational Research. It was a privilege to witness her hooding with her father and niece – a man who struggled to assist his daughter receive an education and a daughter who was in turn is sharing her success with the next generation in her family.

Strategic Plan & Actions
I cannot begin to tell you how pleased I was by the Town Hall meeting to discuss our teacher education redesign aspirations and plans. I was impressed by the seriousness, innovative thinking and sense of purpose of those involved in this project. I particularly wish to acknowledge the work of Professor Susan Noffke, Associate Professor Lisa Monda Amaya, Professor Stafford Hood and Chris Reogge, as well as the faculty who participated actively in the discussion. I do believe we have arrived at a decisive moment and a decidedly more honest understanding of the collaboration, creativity, trust and focus required to match our rhetoric with our actions. At my request, the leaders of the original working group, will now get together again to determine in a more concrete way our next steps and a timeline that we can review so that we move forward productively. Your active participation will make the difference. My optimism and faith in you has again been affirmed in this most challenging of tasks. As Lisa, Sue and the others articulated so clearly – we are not so much solving any specific set of problems with our existing program as much as recognizing what the rapidly changing social context is demanding of us.

Summer remains a very busy period. The Chancellor’s Academy and the Enlist project are filling our corridors with local schoolteachers. Our freshman class is exploring our facilities and programs. Not only are we processing our new hires but we have also been asked to submit our hiring plan for next year by the start of August. And thankfully, we are planning for the anticipated return of a salary program.  All the administrative staff from our four departments have worked together and presented a thoughtful set of proposals for self-reorganizing their duties and responsibilities to better serve our College. They are to be commended for their expertise and timeliness in approaching this task. The staff from the college-wide administrative units are also planning a series of retreats to consider how to implement the recommendation of the administrative review.  Thank you to all involved in the activities scheduled during this time of the year.  The summer Council of Deans retreat is scheduled for mid July and for the first time since I have been here, the Deans have been invited to attend a Board of Trustees retreat in Chicago, late July. It was pleasing to learn that the BOT President, Chris Kennedy, remarked positively at the last BOT meeting on the Revenue Generation report that I chaired for the Stewarding Excellence exercise. Much is still unfolding on campus and it is good that we are being including in high level deliberations.

Finally, being so far from the comfort of my extended family and professional community, has naturally made the role of leadership here in the USA, in the unexpectedly, extraordinary times we have shared, somewhat taxing. My sense of public duty, your respect and friendship and the exhilaration of what we might achieve together to improve the lives of others, has sustained me.  It has been a privilege to work with an outstandingly talented team of faculty, administrative professionals and staff to reposition our College for a strong future. Thank you all sincerely.

I cannot tell you however, just how much I am looking forward to the summer holidays this year – I surely need a real break. I do hope summer is happy, reflective and restful for all of you as well.

All the best,

Dean Mary Kalantzis

Dr Betty Chan
Visting with Betty Chan & Paul Yip in Hong Kong

Pathways to Results
Pathways to Results