Greetings – Dean’s Message – February/March 2012

Dear all,

The classic four-season cycle that we experience in this part of the world is certainly wondrous in all its parts. The first budding of Spring however is especially uplifting, even if too early this year. I hope you have had a chance to go past the two magnificent college magnolias in their full glory this past week. The whole of February was also full of promise within our building filled as it was with the excitement of receiving all the talented applicants for the six new faculty hires we had advertised. Thank you to all for your thoughtful contributions to this process and for the decisions made.

I understand that all faculty at the Assistant Professor level have met with the Associate Dean for Research, Stafford Hood, to explore how to position themselves strongly as scholars. The outcome of their first gathering is a new award (The COE Dean’s External Funding Incentive Program for Assistant Professors) to reward effort by those applying for grants and a commitment to meet on a regular basis and share experiences. I look forward to hearing more about the achievements of this this smart group of colleagues.

For our College, moving up another rung of the US NEWS of the World rankings ladder to 22 was good news, as was the fact that all our ranked programs remain in the top thirteen.  As egregious as these systems are, they seem to matter to our students and to scholars as they contemplate joining us.  At the College level, the main deciding factors include ‘average amount of externally funded research expenditure per faculty member’ and ‘total amount of externally funded research conducted by the school’. As you know, we have more than doubled our performance on these metrics and with fewer faculty. The top school achieves four times what we do more and our peers almost double, so we have a challenging task ahead of us – one that I am confident we can meet given the passion so many of you have shown for developing new ideas and writing grant applications to support the task of turning this ideas into practice. See attached metrics. Our admiration and gratitude to all involved in this outcome and to all who contribute to maintaining the high reputation of our programs and services. Please note too, that we are the second highest performing College on Campus, after Engineering.

As no doubt you have noted, we are trying to capture information about all achievements and share via a number of channels – our web site news, the Dean’s Newsletter, the College’s Facebook and Twitter feeds, the monitors in the building and my own blog. See for instance:


Below are some highlights that came to my attention these past weeks.  Sincere congratulations and well done to all.

•    Julie Pickens, a student from SPED was recently named a recipient of a Robert P. Larsen Grant for Research in Career Development.

•    Christie Gilson a SPED graduate has been selected to serve as a member of the White House’s, J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

•    Royel Johnson, EPOL graduate student, was selected as the Vice-President of Administration during the National Black Graduate Student Association’s 24th national conference in Philadelphia, PA.

•    John K. Knorek, a Teaching Assistant in Educational Psychology,  has won a campus Undergraduate Teaching Award.

•    Three EPOL Professors – James D. Anderson, William Trent and Anne Dyson were selected as AERA Fellows. They will join the class of 2012 Fellows for a special breakfast during the Annual Meeting in Vancouver on April 14th, 2012.

•    EPOL Professor Bill Trent has been selected this year to deliver ‘The Wallace Foundation Lecture’ at the upcoming AERA 2012 Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia. This honor is in recognition of the very important scholarship that he has produced during his distinguished career.

•    EPOL Professor Debra Bragg was invited to present a paper, ‘Pathways To College For Underserved And
Nontraditional Students’, at the Seminar Series on Access and Success, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.

•    EPOL Assistant Professor Ruth Nicole Brown was recognized by Campus for excellence in public engagement for her work with girls in our community.

•    EPOL Associate Professor Chris Higgins won a Campus Research Board, Humanities Released Time Fellowship for Fall.

•    EPOL Professor Nick Burbules was selected as a panelist for 2011-2012 Distinguished Teacher Scholar Series on ‘How 21st- century Learners Change College Teaching’.

•    EPOL Professor Rebecca Ginsburg and the Education Justice Project has received the McKinley Foundation’s social justice award for 2012, in recognition of the project’s work at the Danville Correctional Center. In addition they received a $25,000 discretionary award from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

•    EPOL Research Professor, Bill Cope was a finalist in The Champaign County’s Economic Development Corporation and Innovation Celebration, nominated for the Longevity Through Innovation Award. This event is a joint effort with the University of Illinois, the local community and Parkland College.

•    SPED Lecturer, Suzanne Lee has been selected to receive a campus  Undergraduate Teaching Award.

•    SPED Associate Professor Jim Shriner and his team was awarded a new IES grant: ‘Implementing the Common Core State Standards for Students with Disabilities: Research and Development of Web-based Supports for IEP Team Decisions’.

•    SPED Associate Professor Rosa Milagros Santos and her cross-campus team has been awarded an IES Goal 1 – Early Intervention and Early Learning in Special Education grant to investigate  ‘Men’s Parenting Behaviors in Families of Children with Disabilities: Findings from the ECLS-B’.

•    Ed Psych Assistant Professor Joseph P. Robinson, has again been selected as an Outstanding Reviewer for 2011 by the American Educational Research Association.

•    Ed Psych Professor Dorothy Espelage’s expertise continues to be in demand – this time she is participating in an academic symposium on youth meanness and cruelty sponsored by Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, as part of the launch of their new Foundation, Born This Way Foundation (BTWF), in collaboration with Harvard University.

•    C&I Post-Doctoral fellow, David J. Purpura has been awarded a Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) by the IES.

•    C&I Associate Professor Sharon Tettegah has been selected as a member of a White House, Office of Science, Technology and Policy working group on games.

•    We are also happy to announce that the College has received new support from State Farm.  Through the efforts of the campus Office of Corporate Relations, the State Farm Foundation has approved a new Doctoral Scholarship Program funding for our campus. This includes an individual scholarship amount of $6,000 annually. I understand we received three fellowships and it likely that the scholarships will be used as part of a larger package to recruit highly qualified PhD applicants, possibly in Math/Science Education. The College has received State Farm support in the past for INTC, the work of the Centre for Education in Small Urban Communities and Associate Professor Lisa Monda-Amaya’s research projects.  State Farm’s support is significant to us and very much appreciated.

It was pleasing also to see how many turned out from across the campus and our College to welcome our new Superintendent of the Champaign Unit 4 school district, Dr Judy Weigand. She graduated with a doctorate from our Education and Organizational leadership program in 2003 and we are delighted that she has been provided the opportunity to lead one of our largest school districts. We are committed to her success and confident that together, we can continue to enhance the wellbeing and outcomes of all learners in the system.

Finally, two other matters, of equal significance, about which I have been ruminating.

First, February as you all know, was African American History month. This year’s theme was ‘Black Women in American Culture and History’, focusing on the roles they played in the shaping the nation.

As intended, it prompted me to take particular note of the events, articles and debates that were circulating internal and external to our community. Whilst in New York, I went to see an exhibition about the plight of a young couple, motivated by strong love, who struggled valiantly to escape the fault line of racism. A deliberately moving story, chosen for public consumption during this month in a mega city.

The exhibition consisted of a relatively modest set of images supported poignantly by the narrative of the opposition the couple faced and the successful family they created despite all barriers. Its message for me was that our history, no matter the group we were born into, is the result not just of the way our forebears behaved and what they believed, but of our own active choices and our interpersonal relations – one person at a time.

Whatever we call it, history, diversity, education, social preferences and biases, the issues that the African American History month wants to throw a spotlight on, are with us all the time. This is of particular importance to us as educators. It is our responsibility to be clear headed catalysts, experts, theorists, practitioners and advocates for the good society, where all people live with dignity and can achieve their potential. I am so pleased that those who have stepped forward and are involved with our teacher education redesign have made diversity as a priority in the framework they have developed for their thinking.

The second matter which I want to take up with you, again, is one that I am certain will impact on all of us in equally profound ways, and that is the effect of new technology, on everything, from human agency to the sharing of wealth.

We have taken bold steps in this direction with our online teaching; the establishment of the Ubiquitous Learning Institute, the Forum on the Future of Public Education, the growing body of research that many of you are involved in that is interrogating the affordances of the new technology for learning, cognition, engagement and justice, across the lifespan. The speed of change however seems to be outpacing our efforts and I am concerned that we need to bring this issue to bear on the way we prepare education professional across all of our programs.

The seminar series that Vanna Pianfetti has organized and many of you have attended, has ignited interest in new questions and exposed great gaps that need attention. I must admit that I has mightily impressed that all those who came forward, interested in one our new positions, had themselves been moving in these directions. So see the two articles attached – I hope they contribute to your discussions.

Thank you to all of you who have recognized the work that needs to be done, not just as innovative and critical technology users, but also leaders the designers of new technologies for learning.

The Higher Education Monopoly is Crumbling as We Speak

The US Department of Education and Federal Communications Commission are supporting the formation of a new policy planning and advocacy group: Leading Education by Advancing Digital Commission (LEAD). LEAD brings together interdisciplinary experts to draw up a “blueprint for action” by the end of 2012, one consistent with the National Broadband Plan and the National Educational Technology Plan (Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology).  One of LEAD’s four commissioners is former US Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings (2005-9), who led the implementation of NCLB Act.

I hope you have all enjoyed a productive and rejuvenating Spring break.

Dean Mary Kalantzis