Change for the better is a welcome change

portrait of Dean Catherine EmihovichA new academic year always promises a fresh new start for faculty, students, and staff—a start that is especially welcome after a year of turmoil.


October 13, 2009



portrait of Dean Catherine EmihovichA new academic year always promises a fresh new start for faculty, students, and staff—a start that is especially welcome after a year of turmoil.

This year opens with changes in two key areas: the organizational structure of the College, and the physical structure of both Old and New Norman Hall. Last year, the College developed a new organizational structure in response to mandated budget reductions for 2007 – 2008. The previous structure of four departments and one school was replaced by three newly organized Schools. They are the School of Teaching and Learning (STL); the School of Special Education, School Psychology, and Early Childhood (SESPEC); and, the School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education (SHDOSE).

These three schools were officially ratified by the UF Faculty Senate in September, and we are now preparing new brochures and updating our websites to reflect the new structure.

Both Old and New Norman have undergone modest facelifts to create more stimulating and collaborative work environments. Using HUD funds secured by Florida Congressman John Mica, the northeast corner on the first floor of Old Norman was completely renovated to provide space for faculty in the Research and Evaluation Methods program, along with space for CAPES staff and the Office of Educational Research (OER). The most imaginative design was the creation of an interior corridor that enabled us to build rooms on either side to house faculty, computer and research labs, and graduate assistants.

Renovating this space required the relocation of the Lastinger Center for Learning, which moved to renovated space on the ground floor of New Norman that housed the former Special Education Department. While many Special Education faculty are now in temporary quarters, we will begin a second renovation project this fall that will create a new research complex for these faculty with active research projects that have multiple graduate assistants.

These renovations have led to a dizzying round of musical moves as faculty shift offices, but we believe the final results will result in greater productivity as faculty find it easier to build the collaborative relationships so critical for preparing multidisciplinary grant proposals.

A third project will be the creation of a long-awaited staff lounge to provide staff with a private area for eating lunch and taking breaks.

The constant disruptions from construction and subsequent moves can be read as a metaphor of the turmoil taking place in higher education in Florida as a result of continuing budget reductions. Long-established comfortable patterns are giving way to new models and practices that run counter to how faculty have long viewed their work. In the end, the renovations and organizational changes for our College may be welcomed and more productive, but the journey to that end is marked by constant upheavals in the known world, and with less certainty about the world to come.

That faculty and staff continue to produce excellent work that is highlighted in our newsletter each month, and attract a steady stream of strong students, is a fitting testimony to their commitment to ensuring the College maintains its reputation for excellence and engagement with others to solve Florida’s most pressing educational problems.


Catherine Emihovich, Ph.D.

Professor and Dean
UF College of Education