Greetings – Dean’s Message, Spring Semester, 2016

Dear all,

I hope the winter holidays provided time for replenishing your spirit and rejoicing with loved ones. Welcome back to another calendar year with all the symbolism that the marking of the New Year brings.  Typically it’s a time for resolutions.

There is much we can be grateful for in our private and professional lives. There is also much in the air that begs us to not repeat the past but to find a way to imagine and create a New America, grounded in our common humanity.  As we celebrate Martin Luther King’s vision in 2016,  The Black Lives Matter movement has brought to our attention again what we all know— that far too many African Americans remain affected disproportionately by ongoing injustice and disadvantage, rooted in America’s history of slavery.  We all share responsibility to address this unfinished business.  We must interrogate all our institutions and systems and commit to ensuring that they truly deliver on the promise of democracy.  But perhaps even more importantly, we need to interrogate our hearts and values, for upon these, honest actions are grounded.

This is not to minimize the fact that stubborn inequality and injustice also impacts on the lives of many others as well – indigenous peoples, women, refugees, immigrants, LGBT and poor whites, for example.  Furthermore, the lines are not clear-cut and boundaries porous.  Our own esteemed Professor James Anderson has put the case for action, in our own backyard, most eloquently.

Our Scenario planning exercise has also demonstrated the thoughtfulness that exists among us in our College.  It was uplifting to see how clearheaded you were and how ready we are to face the future.  It has become the mantra now to talk about campus instability, however our College has weathered the ongoing transitions and actively changed itself in order to ensure that we can continue to do important work.

Everywhere I travel, our faculty are regarded as scholarly leaders, nationally and internationally. Their research and teaching is truly transformative. We produce outstanding students that are in high demand and populate schools, community colleges, universities, educational administrations and many other learning sites. Our alumni do us proud. In the diversity of their life experiences and knowledge bases, they extend and influence our positive and inclusive agenda.

Our staff is dedicated and loyal to our College. They have participated in the design of shared services and other new arrangements so we can offer more with less. Of course this is not ideal but required in this moment. I thank them sincerely for all they’ve done.

In order to remain relevant and expand our offerings the College is concentrating its efforts on the new non-certification program which offers a promising alternative to teacher licensure. Our incoming class for this program has exceeded our goal.  Nationally, we are now seeing  growing concerns about pending teacher shortages and hope that improved job prospects and positive wage pressure will encourage students to reconsider the profession. We have redesigned our teacher education program to meet new needs, are aggressively pursuing new recruitment efforts and focusing on prospective teacher candidates from their freshman year.

Additionally, through ongoing analysis, the College is investing in promising, highly ranked, online programs and eliminating those that are not performing well.  The College is also considering the development of innovative options for professionals, including an online EDD program and a lower cost masters alternative, in partnership with Coursera.

In all of this it is your active engagement that makes a difference, participating in decision-making and then implementing what has been agreed. This is always a process of collective action, requiring staff, faculty and administrators to work together. We have seen how this has led to positive outcomes in the recalibration of our undergraduate and graduate programs. Thank you to all who have actively participated in these reforms. Your actions have put us ahead of the game. You have designed a set of measures that will enable us to prepare students for the realities of a more complex world than the one in which many of us grew up in and where we were educated.

Finally, it was very affirming to start this year with a visit to our IDEALL lab of President Killeen, Chancellor Wilson, Provost Feser, Vice Chancellors Schiffer and Peters, and a number of fellow Deans, campus research, center Directors and colleagues.  This afforded us an opportunity to showcase the ways in which we are designing and delivering new digital tools and learning ecologies. The excitement about our cross-campus collaborations and the cutting edge nature of the research being undertaken, was palpable, as was admiration for the sort of learning spaces and laboratory facilities we have created. Thank you to all who returned to campus early in the year to participate and showcase this outstanding work.

I have faith in the individuals who make up our College and their sense of duty, high standards, inquiring minds, collaborative spirits and commitment to the public good. Each of our achievements shines and underpins each other. Together, we have been steadily transforming ourselves to be of greater relevance to our fast changing world and of enhanced value to the University.

Wishing you all a happy and productive new year.

Dean Mary Kalantzis

PS Please also visit our Facebook and Twitter pages – much information is now communicated through these modes. See in particular the stories about our students’ study abroad experiences.

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