From the Dean
I am very excited to be sitting here finally in the Dean’s Office of the College of Education. Since the president and provost selected me for the position last June, I made four visits to campus to meet with faculty, staff, students and alumni in the College in preparation for my appointment. Included in these visits were two very joyous events: the Homecoming Tent Party in October and the Fall Graduate Convocation in the Erickson Kiva in December.
These visits provided me with the opportunity to confirm what I had learned when I interviewed for the position last spring: the College of Education at Michigan State is filled with bright, hard-working and wonderful individuals. When I spoke at the Fall Graduate Convocation, I told the audience that the people I met during those interviews were the main reason I accepted the position. The college has earned the stellar national and international reputation it has because of these individuals, along with support from the university, research sponsors, alumni and other donors. My goal as dean will be to build on this work and enable the college to reach even greater heights and accomplishments.
Since I arrived on the job on Jan. 1, I have been meeting with a number of people both within and outside the College in conversations that I will be continuing throughout the spring semester. While each discussion is somewhat different, they all generally revolve around four key questions:
- What do you think the College is doing well?
- In what areas do you think the College needs to improve?
- What should be the College’s priorities in the coming years – both in efforts that are already underway as well as in new initiatives?
- What support and resources do you and your unit need from the Dean’s Office and more broadly, the university, in order to achieve excellence and distinction?
I am hoping that these conversations will help us best understand the current strengths and weaknesses of the College, and to determine what we need to do to continue the excellence in teaching, research, outreach and administration that we have already achieved and to expand on that into the future. I expect to share the results of these conversations in future issues of the New Educator.
I feel a strong connection to this issue of the New Educator because it contains a series of articles about efforts within the College that focus on improving the pathways from high school into college for students who historically have been underrepresented in higher education in our nation. This is a research topic that I spent much time on in my own work over the years.
As you likely have heard, President Obama has established a national goal of returning the United States to the position of having the highest postsecondary attainment rates in the world. While we used to enjoy that position, over the last two decades other countries have surpassed us so that today the educational attainment of our youngest cohort of workers – those in the 25 to 34 year-old age category – has fallen out of the top 10 among developed countries, according to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. If we are to achieve President Obama’s goal, we will need to focus our efforts on these underserved students, and the research being conducted in the College is an important part of that effort.
Other highlights of this issue include a profile of our newly-hired director of the CREATE for STEM Institute, Joseph Krajcik, who joined us this fall. In addition, you will see a feature on Katie Kosko, selected this fall as National Student Teacher of the Year by Kappa Delta Pi and the Association of Teacher Educators.
There is much more to read here, so please enjoy this issue of the College’s magazine. I look forward to the opportunity to meet many of you in the coming years.
-Dean Donald Heller