Dean’s Column – Above us, only sky

This will be my last column until the fall semester when the e-newsletter resumes publication in September. The end of the academic year is a good time to reflect on […]

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May 8, 2007

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Catherine EmihovichThis will be my last column until the fall semester when the e-newsletter resumes publication in September. The end of the academic year is a good time to reflect on all that has happened, and to prepare for the coming one. This past year has been unusually busy with the culmination of our centennial celebration featuring the St. Petersburg conference in November and the burying of the time capsule in December, the receipt of significant grants by many faculty, a record number of searches for new faculty members, the largest attendance ever for our annual Scholarship of Engagement banquet, and of course, everyone’s favorite closing event, commencement ceremonies.

The undergraduate ceremony was held for the first time in the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, again beautifully organized by
Assistant Dean Theresa Vernetson and her efficient and capable staff and collegewide committee. The commencement address was delivered by Elizabeth Van Ella, a COE graduate herself (BAE ’65) and the chief executive officer of a company in Chicago, VanElla Inc. Judging by the reaction of the crowd, her remarks were a great success, especially among those of us who remember the ‘60’s well. She constructed her speech in part around the famous John Lennon song, “Imagine”, and encouraged our graduates to see “only sky above” and imagine myriad possibilities for taking action to change society.

As I noted, the record number of searches this year (15) kept faculty extremely busy almost to the end of April. We were fortunate in filling 10 of them, along with increasing our faculty diversity, and the candidates selected will be an excellent complement to current faculty. Most encouragingly, many applicants commented on the high quality of research being done, particularly within the framework of engaged scholarship and it was evident that the high energy level among faculty and students was clearly apparent. As one candidate noted admiringly, “I can’t believe all the activities that are happening, especially out in schools and communities.” The most recent issue of the Education Times underscores this point beautifully; it is easily the best issue ever produced not just for the stories it tells, but also for the quality of the publication and the way the stories are written. Without question, Larry Lansford, Tim Lockette, and Juawon Scott have done a superb job! I have received numerous compliments on it, including one from Provost Janie Fouke, and I know our faculty, students, and staff are proud to be at a college of education that is as dynamic and forward moving as ours is. We welcome comments from alumni and friends of the college if they feel the same way; please drop us a line on our newly revamped alumni website.

The next major event on our horizon will be UF’s “Florida Tomorrow” Capital Campaign Kick-off on Sept. 28. Each college or academic unit is now planning a series of activities to showcase their area. Our focus will be on technology and education, both to highlight new directions education will take in the 21st century, and also to call attention to our major campaign goal, which is to raise funds to renovate old Norman Hall and add a whole new wing that will become the Experiential Learning Complex. We encourage all alumni and retired faculty living in the vicinity to mark their calendars to join us for a day in “imagining” the college of the future. More details on the specific activities will appear in the September column.

While summer may be a time when the “living is easy” for some, it’s still a very busy time for many faculty and students. I plan to enjoy the summer and relax if possible, because I already know it will be another active and exciting year. I also can’t believe that I have now been the dean for five years; as the old saying goes, “Time flies when you are having fun.” If our fundraising efforts are successful, I look forward to imagining us in a state-of-the-art technology complex and a newly renovated Norman Hall that will take us into a 21st century learning environment. “You may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one…” (John Lennon, Imagine).

– Dean Catherine Emihovich