UF College of Education condemns acts of hate and violence

The rise of ignorant and racist attacks on Asians and Asian-Americans must stop. Acts of hate and violence have no place in our society, and the UF College of Education condemns those who perpetrate these atrocities.

Dean’s Message: Reflections on my tenure–and approaching departure–as dean

Dean Catherine Emihovich

Dean Catherine Emihovich

Dear Colleagues,

In February, Provost Joe Glover informed you via email of my recent decision to step down as dean of UF’s College of Education and return to teaching and research on the education faculty. I want to follow up with my own expressions of gratitude and appreciation. Some of the details from the provost’s note are repeated, in case you missed his email, but I also add my own thoughts and feelings about my transition . . .

My move becomes official Aug. 14 and I will take a year’s sabbatical leave before assuming my tenured faculty responsibilities in our School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education.

I have served as the College’s 12th dean, and its first woman dean, since 2002. The time just feels right for me, and my family, to move into the next phase of my career and life. My husband, Ron, and I especially look forward to spending more quality time together. While enduring some very difficult economic times for the College and University during my tenure, it has nonetheless been an honor and privilege to work with so many dedicated and committed faculty and staff who have made this College the very special place that it is today.

I want to express my deep gratitude and appreciation to all of you who have continually answered our call for hard work and support. I couldn’t leave my position without acknowledging all that you have done. Against all odds, the College has prospered over the past decade, and all the credit goes to our faculty, staff, and supportive stakeholders who made it all possible.

A signature element of my deanship was the emphasis on the concept of “engaged scholarship.” We can all take pride in how the College has emerged as a national leader in effective education reform, and that we now reach out to over 300 schools across Florida. Our Lastinger Center for Learning is considered a national role model for partnering with high-need schools around the state in support of whole-school improvement and teachers’ continuing professional development. Another national program, UF Teach, represents a radically different approach to recruiting science and mathematics majors into the teaching ranks, easing the shortage of qualified teachers in the STEM fields. The National Center to Improve Policy and Practice in Special Education Professional Development (NCIPP) has played a leading role in the continuing policy debates about teacher quality. P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, in partnership with the Center for School Improvement, has established a national model of teacher inquiry for other K-12 schools to emulate.

Last year, College faculty held nearly $38 million in active research and training grants, our highest total ever. A major milestone occurred just a couple months ago when the College spearheaded UF’s creation of a Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies that will promote research and outreach efforts designed to enhance children’s early learning and healthy development from birth to age 5. As part of the University’s “Florida Tomorrow” capital campaign, the College has already exceeded its third fundraising goal of $25M, although the campaign runs through 2012. During my deanship, more than 30 new student scholarships and fellowships were funded by our generous donors.

Although I did not accomplish my most ambitious goals – securing external funding to renovate Norman Hall and add a new addition to create the Experiential Learning Complex – I was able to secure almost $5 million dollars to enhance our IT infrastructure, and renovate several areas of Old and New Norman. These areas included the new REM/OER complex, the new DE offices on the third floor, new office space to accommodate the STEM-related faculty on the ground floor, new office space for the Lastinger Center, and early childhood faculty and the new Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies, space for a faculty research commons, and the long-awaited staff lounge.

I am indeed proud of what the College has accomplished “on my watch”—thanks to your vital support. Our accomplishments, however, are merely the foundation for even greater achievement in the years to come. UF’s College of Education expects to play a lead role in transforming our education system to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and closing the persistent achievement gap for students most in need. With you and others in the EduGator Nation behind us, success with distinction is not just our goal, but our only option.

Dean Catherine Emihovich pops wheelie on motorcycle (with some help from Photoshop) in preparation for ride in 2005 Homecoming parade.

'Easy Rider' Emihovich, practicing for ride in 2005 Homecoming parade, pops a wheelie (with some Photoshop assistance), bringing to mind one of her favorite sayings: 'This isn't your mother's college of education."

I look forward to assuming my new role in the effort, not as dean, but as a fellow teacher and scholar on the faculty of UF’s College of Education

I now close, one last time as dean, with my all-time favorite sign-off:  Gooooooooooo Gators!!!


Catherine Emihovich, Ph.D.
Professor and Dean

DEAN’S MESSAGE: New year sparks optimism–and call for action

Posted Jan. 25, 2011

Catherine EmihovichHappy New Year! Despite all the problems and challenges facing our state and nation, it’s difficult not to feel a burst of optimism at the beginning of a new year. It’s hard to believe that the first decade of the 21st century is already over. Just yesterday, it seems we were worrying about worldwide computer crashes (remember the Y2K issue in 2000?) and now we worry about the worldwide economy crashing.

While few of us can do much about the latter scenario, we can resolve to take action on both professional and personal fronts to improve the quality of public education so that all children can benefit from equal opportunities to learn. The evidence mounts every day that increased levels of education will be the only buffer against being left behind in the new global economy. As a college heavily focused on the application of our research results for outreach and intervention work, our faculty and students play a unique role in helping to close the painfully long and continuing achievement gap among different student groups.

Despite all the challenges of declining state support, the College of Education posted an exceptional record last year in addressing family, school and community needs through research, teaching and service. Without a doubt, the COE annual report for 2009-10 was the best one I’ve read since becoming the dean in 2002. In virtually every category, the results were striking in terms of faculty, student and alumni accomplishments. . .

— External grant funding has reached a record high level of almost $38 million; private funding exceeded $3 million; faculty have received five highly competitive IES grants, and, over 2,800 students are now enrolled in online programs.

— As the UF Capital Campaign approaches the end (in 2012), the College has already exceeded its two previous targets of $9 million, and $20 million respectively, and is well on track to exceed the $25 million target, which is an unprecedented record.

— This past fall, a long cherished dream of our early childhood faculty was realized with the approval of a new, interdisciplinary Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies. This new center will support faculty collaboration on research projects in education, law, medicine, nursing, and public health centered on issues related to children’s well-being from birth to age 5.

— The Lastinger Center continued its stellar track record in obtaining external funds, and the highly successful and widely acclaimed Florida Master Teacher Initiative now has over 230 teachers enrolled in the program.

— Lastly, the College is a partner with the Miami-Dade School District on an i3 grant from the U.S. Department of Education for developing a job-embedded master’s degree program for early childhood educators.

What’s ahead for the College? We have a new governor who took office in January and has presented some very ambitious–and rather unsettling—education proposals, although they are more likely to impact K-12 education than higher education. We also know the state faces a daunting $3.5 billion deficit which needs to be resolved by June. Yet, I still return to my earlier optimism.

We have talented and energetic faculty engaged in research that speaks to the concerns of families, schools, and communities; we have outstanding students and we have loyal and active alumni who continue to support the college in multiple ways. The Faculty Policy Council has mobilized faculty in a strategic planning process to chart a course for the college for the next five years.

The fact that the College has been so successful , given all the challenging issues and budget reductions we have faced over the last four years, should encourage all faculty, staff, students and alumni to believe that we will weather these economic upheavals just as well as, if not better than, those encountered in  previous years.


DEAN’S MESSAGE: Education bill on Gov. Crist’s desk ignores true reform

Posted April 15, 2010

Few issues in education have created as an intense public debate as the two bills the Florida Legislature passed last week. Known as Senate Bill 6 (with the identical companion House  Bill 7189), the bills propose radical changes to educational policies and practices that will negatively affect teachers, school-based administrators, non-instructional personnel, school districts, and state-approved degree programs in all private and public post-secondary institutions in  the state.

Dean Catherine EmihovichIn this month’s column, I‘d like to review the key components that will most affect colleges of education, and conclude with a general comment on the heavy-handed approach to a very real and serious problem in this state – improving the academic performance of students, particularly those who attend the most challenged and diverse schools.

Based on a letter the Florida Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (FACTE) sent to Governor Charlie Crist urging him to veto the bill, here are some of the most pressing concerns voiced by education deans across the state:

  • We requested that all teacher-preparation service providers be held to the same standards of accountability. Our concern is that non-university-based providers (e.g., district-based alternative certification, competency-based exams) will produce teachers who do not have to meet the same rigorous standards regarding levels of clinical experience and demonstrated ability to work with struggling readers, special needs students and non-native speakers of English.
  • We vigorously protested the removal of “degrees held” as a factor in establishing and augmenting the school districts’ salary schedules.  Teachers and administrators need to maintain their knowledge base and skills in rapidly changing fields, and to understand the deep connection between evidence-based research and practice. Building a quality workforce requires advanced training, and I know of no other profession where advanced degrees do not lead to higher salaries.
  • We sought clarification on the requirement that colleges of education remediate teachers at no cost if they are not effective in the classroom in their first two years. While the SUS deans certainly stand by the quality of our graduates who completed a professional program, the bill does not clarify who is responsible for non-program completers. We also note that non-university based providers are not required to provide the same level of remediation.
  • We disagreed with the language in the proposed legislation that requires teacher education instructors to have teaching experience and/or clinical education training.  If this were the case, all university faculty, including those who teach the subject area courses (e.g., history, math, science) would be required to have clinical experience in K-12 schools, which is a logistical nightmare. This requirement would present an unnecessary hurdle to the interdisciplinary use of the college faculty without providing any real benefit.

These bills are so sweeping in their intent regarding the K-12 components that I do not have the space to discuss all the concerns, particularly those provisions which have stirred the greatest public anger – the removal of tenure, and linking teachers’ performance evaluations and pay to student-learning gains.

On the surface, both items seem like reasonable ideas, until the data on student performance is examined more closely. Student achievement, which is highly variable from year to year even with the best teachers, is determined by not just what happens in the classroom, but by multiple factors outside the classroom beyond the school’s control.

If we as a society seriously want to improve the educational outcomes for our poorest and most challenged students, then we not only have to address issues of teacher quality, but also the poverty and racism that have kept many students from achieving their full potential.

Blaming teachers and asking them to assume full individual responsibility for a collective societal failure is the easy answer. As the satirist H.L. Mencken once said, “There is always one simple answer to a complex problem, and it’s almost always wrong.”

We can only hope that Gov. Crist will recognize this simple fact, and veto this draconian education bill so that all stakeholders – parents, teachers, administrators, community members, policymakers, and college faculty – can work collaboratively to design the true educational reform Florida desperately needs.

Catherine Emihovich
Professor and Dean

DEAN’S MESSAGE: Improved accountability could elevate teaching profession to deserved status

Improving the quality of teacher preparation–a perennial topic in American education–has received renewed attention under the Obama administration, and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has made several high profile speeches recently that underscore the need to elevate the teaching profession.

portrait of Catherine EmihovichSpecifically, in an article he wrote for American Educator (Winter 2009-10), Duncan suggested that “teaching, in short, should be one of the nation’s most revered professions. Teachers should be amply compensated, fairly evaluated, and supported by topnotch professional development.” He noted that this approach has not been followed in over 50 years, and posed the question as to what factors would increase public perception of teaching as a true profession.

I encourage readers who are interested in Duncan’s answers to read the article, but I would like to consider his question in the context of the work we do at UF’s College of Education, and in relation to the new standards from our national accreditation organization, the National Council on Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

The College, continuously accredited since 1954, has long held a commitment to program quality, candidate performance, and continuous improvement and innovation. Last week, we concluded our most recent joint accreditation review by NCATE and the Florida Department of Education; while we still need to receive the official reports, I am pleased and proud to say we met all NCATE standards with no needs for improvement cited, and we received full state program approval for all 19 UF education programs (which also include affiliated programs in agricultural, art, and music education, and programs in counselor education, educational leadership, and school psychology).

Additionally, both teams singled out considerable strengths for special praise. For FLDOE, these areas were:

1) faculty commitment to professional preparation and to improving educational outcomes for P-12 students,

2) quality relationships with school partners,

3) candidate quality clearly tied to their programs of study,

4) consistent candidate reports of strong faculty mentoring, and,

5) active involvement of campus and school leadership for professional education.

NCATE examiners emphasized particular strengths in 4 of the 6 professional standards:

Standard No. 1. The review team noted that candidates in many of our programs have exceptional understanding of what it means to impact student learning and development. We believe the teacher inquiry model we use helps our candidates gather student data to plan, teach, assess, and then reflect on the quality of their instruction;

Standard No. 3. The team was extremely impressed with the quality and extent of the authentic, collaborative partnerships many of our programs have with schools, and our commitment to making a difference in schools and communities;

Standard No.4. The deep work by faculty and candidates in high-poverty schools was recognized as exceptional for some of the same reasons stated in Standard 3; and,

Standard No. 5. The team identified engaged scholarship as an important aspect of faculty work, especially for a college of education that wants to demonstrate that its research, teaching, and service activities benefit the broader educational community. They noted that our commitment to work in schools has the potential to significantly improve education.

If teaching is to become widely recognized and acknowledged as the rigorous profession that it should be, all preparation programs should meet national accreditation standards that not only address issues of program quality and continuous improvement, but also the impact teacher candidates have on student learning in P-12 settings.

We have taken some preliminary steps to do that, and along with other SUS institutions we will collaborate with the FLDOE and the Florida Board of Governors on a more extensive study of the effectiveness of our graduates in improving student learning.

Finally, the approaches we have taken in the College of Education are similar to the ones advocated by the recently formed NCATE Blue Ribbon Panel on Clinical Preparation and Partnerships on Improving Student Learning. Florida is well represented since both Education Dean Larry Daniel (University of North Florida) and I are members of the panel.

Given all these new emphases, we as a society may finally be at a point where one of the most significant and influential professions – teaching – receives its just and overdue recognition for preparing the next generation of citizens to contribute to the public good.

— Catherine Emihovich, Professor and Dean


DEAN’S MESSAGE: Grrrrrr! UF COE has answers for education gremlins’ timeworn grrrrrumblings

portrait of Dean Catherine EmihovichAlthough Halloween is over, the education gremlins are still lurking in state and national policy circles. What are the education gremlins? They are the imps who whisper in policymakers’ ears that colleges of education are not sufficiently meeting the challenge of preparing the next generation of high-quality teachers to help increase student learning, especially in the nation’s most underserved schools.

One of them even caught Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education, who recently gave two important and timely speeches about teacher preparation. In his first speech at the University of Virginia, Secretary Duncan fell under their spell and recited the timeworn canards about colleges of education:

  • they are too focused on theory and too little on clinical practice;
  • students lack the academic skills of peers in other disciplines;
  • too little attention is paid to helping future teachers work effectively with culturally and linguistically diverse students;
  • education schools fail to partner with school districts in developing and disseminating interventions backed by rigorous research.

Fortunately, in his second speech at Teachers College-Columbia University, Duncan escaped the gremlins’ clutches, and commented that many colleges of education have done an excellent job of preparing high-quality teachers, although he noted many have yet to reach a high bar of excellence.

The aspects of both speeches that caught my attention were these: a prominent education official openly praised the significant role teachers have in educating future citizens; underscored the fact that education colleges are expected to prepare the majority of 200,000 new teachers this country will need by 2014; and identified the characteristics of outstanding programs, which he mentioned by name.

My only regret is that he didn’t include the UF College of Education, since our teacher education programs, both for initial preparation of new teachers as well as continuing professional development for practicing teachers, embody many of these characteristics.

Our ProTeach programs at the elementary and secondary level, which have been nationally accredited by NCATE since 1954, feature rigorous clinical preparation, placement in professional development schools working with master teachers, strong academic content, a focus on effective strategies for struggling learners and those with special needs, and a commitment to using data to improve student learning through action research and teacher inquiry projects.

In addition, we offer two post-B.A. programs designed to prepare teachers for urban schools, both of which involve extensive time in schools either as a residency program or a year-long internship. We have also developed a close partnership with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to prepare math and science teachers in our UFTeach model, which is based on the highly successful UTEACH program first developed at the University of Texas at Austin.

Thanks to our Lastinger Center for Learning, I firmly believe UF has the most innovative and far-reaching teacher professional development program in the country–known as the job embedded master’s degree. We now have a presence in over 250 schools across Florida where teachers are earning their master’s degree simultaneously while working on the job and applying what they learn about research-based practices in their classrooms. It’s a perfect fusion of theory and practice seamlessly blended where teachers test insights gained from classes the night before, and return the next week to report on what worked and what didn’t.

Ironically, many of the teachers enrolled in this hybrid online program are those who come from the alternative certification programs that Secretary Duncan singled out for praise such as Teach for America.

At the same time, I agree with him that education colleges should emulate Teach for America’s rigorous selection process for admission into teaching, and the use of videotaped demonstrations to help candidates improve their performance. I also note that in our upcoming NCATE reaccreditation visit in spring, 2010, we will be one of the first colleges of education to pilot the new Continuous Improvement option and to engage in a Transformation Initiative. Adopting these new options demonstrates UF’s commitment to greater accountability by using data generated on an annual basis to make substantive program changes.

The education gremlins will always be around, but their power will be greatly diminished the more policymakers learn about the outstanding work done by many colleges of education, particularly at the University of Florida. The real winners are the children in Florida’s schools, and college faculty and the education professionals we prepare are fully cognizant of the need to provide the highly educated workforce for meeting the demands of the 21st century economy.

— Catherine Emihovich, Professor and Dean


Dean’s Message: On rankings, faculty productivity and optimism

Posted April 24, 2009

While we wait for the University of Florida’s final budget to emerge from the state Legislature, we should keep in mind the fact that we have a strong and vibrant College of Education, where outstanding work continues even during these hard times. The latest U.S. News & World Report rankings for America’s Best Graduate Schools has just been released, and we were enormously pleased to see that two programs, Counselor Education and Special Education, were ranked No. 3 and No. 5, respectively, and that for the first time, our program in Educational Administration made the rankings list, at No. 26. The College overall held the 54th slot in the national rankings, which tied us with several research universities around the country. To maintain a top 10 ranking for two of our programs, while adding a third nationally ranked program, is no small accomplishment given all the dramatic changes that have taken place during this year. I commend the faculty in all these highly regarded programs for their impressive work, and I am optimistic the college will strengthen its national profile as we continue to build on the foundation we are now establishing as we refocus our strategic goals.

I recently completed my dean’s report to the faculty highlighting the many special initiatives that were launched or reached major milestones this year, faculty honors and awards, and the success of our fundraising efforts. Reading over this impressive report, I realized it’s far too easy to focus on the negative and overlook the positives of the impressive array of research and engaged scholarship activities underway across the entire college. Whether the focus is on STEM-related activities (22 initiatives in this area alone!), early childhood readiness, teachers’ professional development, teacher inquiry, campuswide assessment and evaluation, English language learners, or improving access to higher education, we have a significant presence of faculty and students who are providing innovative solutions to a broad range of school and community concerns. We will be celebrating all of these accomplishments and many more in our second annual Faculty Research and Engaged Scholarship Showcase on Oct. 15, so mark your calendars for this important event.

A dismal economic picture has not dampened our fundraising success, either. To date, we have raised $18.7 million in our capital campaign, which is 94 percent of our $20 million goal. This year alone, we raised over $8.3 million to support research and scholarships in the College, projects tied to the Lastinger Center for Learning, UFTeach, and PKY. I was especially pleased to learn that because of a gift from a generous donor who believes in our College, we will be to recruit, in the future, our second endowed chair in the area of school improvement research.

Further cause for optimism is President Obama’s national education priorities:

  • “Investing in early childhood initiatives” like Early Head Start and Head Start;
  • “Encouraging better standards and assessments” by using testing itineraries that better fit students and the world they live in;
  • “Recruiting, preparing, and rewarding outstanding teachers” with incentives for a new generation of teachers and for new levels of excellence among all teachers;
  • “Promoting innovation and excellence in America’s schools” by modernizing the school calendar and the structure of the school day and supporting effective charter schools;
  • “Providing every American with a quality higher education — whether it’s college or technical training.”

The good news is that many of the initiatives we already have underway map extremely well onto these priorities, and I believe we have a great opportunity to capitalize on our strengths as we seek new revenue sources to help us cope with the reductions we face. I am generally an optimistic person, and as Colin Powell has said, “Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.” May the Force be with our college as we forge ahead in the coming year.

— Catherine Emihovich, Dean


Dean’s Message: When the going gets tough, follow the Gators’ lead

Dean Emihovich

Dean Emihovich

I recall starting my January 2007 column by noting that the UF football team had just defeated Ohio State for the BCS National Championship. Now, two years later, I have the same opportunity. While we celebrated victory in both title games, a striking difference is how the second victory was achieved-a tough, gritty, pertinacious effort against a strong, formidable Oklahoma team. The Gators’ determination and resolve mirrors how we must approach the task of dealing with the severe fiscal crises at the state and national levels. We will have to buckle down and ask hard, and sometimes, painful questions about the College’s strategic directions, what goals we want to achieve, and how we intend to achieve these goals with diminished resources.

To succeed in this challenging environment, we must identify and secure new resources. One key strategy is to embrace the concept of partnerships and collaboration at all levels. Among faculty, serious and substantive discussions will need to occur in all degree programs about how to strengthen or revise programs in relation to the rich array of talent available not only within our college, but across the entire university. We also must find new ways to package our expertise in important areas such as teaching, learning, and assessment. In fact, CAPES (Collaborative Assessment and Program Evaluation Services) was started about a year ago for just this purpose, and it is already attracting great interest from the entire campus. As CAPES expands its resource base, it will be able to fund both faculty and staff to engage in work that helps support research-related activities.

College faculty also must become more involved in partnership activities with school districts. In this respect, we are very fortunate to have the Lastinger Center of Learning so deeply connected with our degree programs, especially the job-embedded master’s degree known as TLSI-the Teacher Leadership and School Improvement program, which has been exceptionally successful. Thanks to the outstanding leadership of center director Don Pemberton, assistant director Alyson Adams and their colleagues, powerful partnerships have been built with school districts across the state that are so well respected that districts are willing to contribute funds in a time of scarcity to support teachers to enroll in TLSI. This model has led to significant improvements in teacher quality in high-need schools; under a new national administration, we hope this model will receive greater recognition and encourage other colleges of education to emulate it.

Finally, as a college of education at an AAU Research I university, we need to boost our research productivity and level of external grant funding. We have made major strides in this area, but in these tough economic times even greater effort will be needed. Our Office of Educational Research (OER) is ready to assist faculty in this regard, especially in seeking cross-disciplinary, collaborative grants with units not just on this campus, but with other partners across the nation and world. UF’s highly successful Science for Life program funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute is an excellent prototype, and college faculty who are deeply involved have already received separate grants from major funders (NSF) for related activities.

While the formidable challenges we face should not be minimized, the strong relationships that have already been established through multiple venues auger well for our college to succeed and even flourish by identifying and responding to opportunities that will set the standard for how colleges of education will be defined in the 21st century.


Dean’s Message: ‘Yes We Can’: post-election ponderings on making a difference in education

‘Yes We Can’: post-election ponderings on making a difference in education

Dean Emihovich

Dean Emihovich

I write this column after the election of the first African-American man as the 44th president of the United States has taken place. So much has been written already about this historic and quite extraordinary event that it’s difficult to add any new insights, except to say that regardless of one’s political preferences, Barack Obama’s triumph on election night was one that people across the country mutually shared with him. Watching the scenes of intense emotions and tears of joy flashing across the screen in Grant Park in Chicago (ironically, the scene of violent anti-war protests at the Democratic Convention in 1968), I imagine that most Americans felt equally proud that their country once again demonstrated its commitment to the ideals of open access and equal opportunity for all, even as we wistfully noted that achieving these lofty ideals takes far longer than many of us desired.

The University of Florida also celebrates this year its own historically significant occasion as it marks the 50th anniversary of integrating the campus after admitting its first group of black students in 1958. The College of Education has its own story to share as described in the most recent issue of our college magazine, Education Times. There, readers will find the heartwarming story of Daphne Duval-Williams, a 102-year-old alumna who risked myriad slurs and harassment in her quest to achieve the best education possible in the state. Since then, COE has seen a number of other major barriers fall, as African-American faculty were first hired and then tenured, and their numbers steadily (albeit slowly)increased, while African-American students continued to enroll, most notably in counseling and educational leadership programs.   Sadly, great progress in some areas has been counterbalanced by slow progress or declines in others; the enrollment of African-American students (as well as Hispanic students) in teacher preparation still lags behind what it should be given the rapidly changing K-12 demographics.

Faculty commitment to incorporating issues of equity and social justice into their research programs and course curricula is an ongoing feature of college life, and the work of the Lastinger Center has been justly lauded for its extensive involvement in high-poverty preK-5 schools across the state. The Alliance program still maintains strong relationships with six high poverty high schools, and is expanding its programs to include schools in Puerto Rico. The College also houses the universitywide College Reach Out Program (CROP), a program designed to bring low-income students in grades 6-12 to campus to encourage their dreams of attending college in the future. PKY has taken the lead among developmental research schools in the state in ensuring that its student population approximates the characteristics of the state, with 44 percent on free and reduced lunch, and offers an outstanding educational opportunity to students of color in the Gainesville area. All of these programs are a direct result of that fateful decision by UF in 1958 to open its doors and heart to students who were previously barred from admission, and whose accomplishments made it possible for others to follow in their stead.

No one naively believes that Barack Obama’s election washes away completely the dark stains of racism and prejudice that have characterized American history since its founding, but it does offer the turning of a new page, the beginning of a new chapter, and the embarking on a new journey toward improving race relations. At its best, education has always been about opening new frontiers of learning, and challenging the preconceptions and misconceptions that prevented students of color from achieving their full potential. The College of Education is deeply engaged at all levels in improving educational outcomes, especially for those most in need, and searching constantly for ways to make a difference in people’s lives. Whether we will succeed can be summed up in the three simple words eloquently stated by our new president-elect – “Yes, we can. “


Dean’s Message: Cuts and Restructuring – or, I Know What You Did Last Summer

At this time of year, I typically sit down to write an enthusiastic, optimistic message to COE faculty, staff and friends, welcoming them back to campus and introducing them to new members of the faculty. It’s usually an exciting and pleasant task. Over the past few years, I’ve grown accustomed to welcoming not one or two, but many new faculty, all with exciting research already underway. In past years, the excitement of returning to the COE campus has been palpable.

This year, things are a little different. Yes, we have impressive new faculty, and yes, there is groundbreaking research underway at COE—but in the wake of severe budget cuts, we enter the year with a mood of perseverance rather than jubilation. We will still succeed, and will carry on our research mission with discipline and grace.   But our efforts are tinged with some sadness.

To recap, here’s what happened over the summer. In May, the university proposed a budget plan that required significant cuts from all 16 UF colleges. As a result, we restructured the College of Education, consolidating our five departments into three. We returned 14 faculty and eight staff lines to UF’s central administration, and closed four academic degree programs. It is frustrating to have to eliminate these positions, most of which were open posts which we cannot fill. It was particularly painful to have to say goodbye to four hard-working members of our staff as part of the cuts.

Whether UF and other state agencies will face further budget cuts is yet to be determined, but given the grim economic news in the housing and tourism areas, we must prepare for that possibility. While other states across the nation and countries around the world have targeted education as a high priority for strategic investments, it’s puzzling to wonder why Florida has not followed suit. The most important asset any government has is human capital, and if that is starved, then Florida stands to miss out on the gains already underway in other states when better economic times return.

Ironically, as the College undergoes a painful fiscal transition, on another level, the quality of work by faculty, students, and staff continues to soar. Grant productivity is at an all-time high; honors for faculty continue to roll in; increased recruitment has resulted in a more capable, and more diverse, student body; staff have performed admirably in managing office relocations and building problems; and, external support from our loyal alumni and friends of education has helped us come close to meeting our Capital Campaign goal of $20 million. Our grant funding has allowed us to hire four new faculty members (John Bailey, Meg Kamman, Melinda Leko and Gloria Weber) and we were granted special budget permission to hire new Assistant Professor Tim Jacobbe, who will help us prepare new mathematics teachers — something the state has identified as a high-needs area.

We are proud to welcome them all. But there is much to be done, and we wish we could have hired several more like them.

The challenges we face this coming year are huge, but given all the dedication and commitment that is evident across the college, I still remain optimistic that we will be successful in addressing them, and achieve even more in the years to come with everyone’s help.

The literary critic William Hazlitt once wrote, “Prosperity is a great teacher; adversity is greater.” It’s a comforting thing to keep in mind. But we teachers are also self-motivated learners, and I don’t know that we need quite as much adversity as we’re getting. One day we’ll be under the tutelage of prosperity again, and I think we’ll show the state of Florida, yet again, that its money is well spent here.


Dean’s Message: Faculty searches. Strengthening the Ed.D. Big announcement.

Dean’s Column


Dean Catherine Emihovich

For most people, springtime in Florida means the azaleas and dogwood are blooming and the weather is perfect – neither too hot nor too cold. For higher education, it usually means seeing a parade of candidates march through the campus as we seek new faculty for the coming academic year. This year, the College is conducting a record number of faculty searches across all five departments. Counselor Education is searching for a new department chair; Educational Administration and Policy is seeking three faculty members; Educational Psychology is looking for two; the School of Teaching and Learning is seeking five; and Special Education is looking for two. In addition, we are still conducting searches to fill two endowed professorships: The Irving and Rose Fien Professorship in Education, and the David Lawrence Jr. Professorship in Early Childhood Studies. If we are successful in filling all these vacancies, and combining them with the number of new faculty that have been hired in the last four years, beginning fall 2007 approximately 50 percent of the faculty will be new to the College of Education since I arrived in 2002. All these new hires, along with the excellent work of our continuing faculty, offer the promise of even greater changes to come as a new generation of scholar-teachers arrives on the scene.

Altering the composition of the faculty is not the only way our College is changing and adapting to the dynamic landscape in higher education. A new initiative is now underway to re-imagine one of our doctoral degrees. We have been selected as one of 20 institutions in the country to participate in the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate—a five-year effort sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and the Council of Academic Deans in Research Education Institutions (CADREI)—to strengthen the education doctorate, with particular emphasis on the Professional Practice Doctorate (Ed.D.). Participating institutions include the following:

University of Connecticut University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Duquesne University Northern Illinois University
University of Florida University of Oklahoma
University of Houston Rutgers University
University of Kansas University of Southern California
University of Kentucky University of Vermont
University of Louisville Virginia Commonwealth University
University of Maryland Virginia Tech
University of Missouri-Columbia Washington State University

The purpose of this project is to take a critical look at the doctorate in education, to examine the distinctions between the Ph.D. and Ed.D., and through a comprehensive analysis of both degrees, strengthen both so they better meet students’ needs and the standards of the educational research community. We are honored to have been selected, and a faculty team (yet to be formed) in partnership with Linda Hagedorn, chair of Educational Administration and Policy, and Jeri Benson, associate dean of academic affairs, will meet this semester to plan their work over the next five years.

If adding new faculty members, and becoming part of the Carnegie Project was not enough excitement, I have will even more incredible news to announce in next month’s column. Watch for the big announcement on our website around March 5, which will describe an initiative that will solidify our reputation in the state for developing innovative school/community/university partnerships, and enhance our national visibility. As I noted in my column last month, it’s great to be recognized as national champions in the sports arena, but we feel it is equally important to be the college and university that champions the cause of improving our future citizens’ lives through access to quality education from early childhood through postsecondary education. Becoming the national champion in this regard is a worthy goal indeed, one we are well on the way to obtaining. Stay tuned.

– Dean Catherine Emihovich.


Dean’s Message – Centennial Message to Colleagues of the Future

(The following note, penned by UF Education Dean Catherine Emihovich, was among the items buried in a time capsule Dec. 7, 2006, in a ceremony culminating the College of Education’s yearlong centennial celebration.)

Catherine Emihovich, Ph.D.
Professor and Dean
December 7, 2006

It’s a very odd, and rather unsettling, experience to be writing a message to whoever will read it 50 years from now. The burial of the time capsule on this date was the culminating event in a year-long celebration of the first 100 years of the College of Education’s history since it was founded in 1906. As I reflect on the past, what is striking to me is how little some aspects of education have changed over those years. Clearly, significant changes have occurred with the kind of information students need to acquire, and the delivery of instruction is just now beginning to be substantively impacted by the increasing use of technologies such as laptop computers, electronic white boards, assistive devices for students with disabilities, etc. But what has not really changed is that students still arrive at a school where they go to their classroom, see the chairs lined up in rows (or in more modern schools, tables), and listen to the teacher (most likely a woman) who is standing in front of the room presenting the lesson. The schools of 2006 may have far more facilities than past schools, but the majority of teaching and learning activities still take place in a defined building and not in alternative spaces within homes, community settings, or public areas. We are more cognizant of, and attentive to, the needs of children with varying disabilities, but sadly, despite the increasing diversity of U.S. public schools in terms of ethnicity and language, the schools are more segregated now in 2006 than they were in the past 100 years.

As I imagine education in the future, I picture learning taking place without regard to the boundaries of time and space. Perhaps by now virtual learning environments will have been created, and students move in and out of them as needed to acquire the knowledge and skills they need to function in a global society. They may have access to devices that allow them to translate any language seamlessly, capture their thoughts instantly on a form without transcribing them, or share information across widely distributed networks that replicate the neural patterns of the human brain. By now, the physical characteristics of students and teachers will truly be irrelevant as barriers to learning, bringing new meaning to the phrase created by a great leader in our time – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – who said he longed for the day when “people will be judged more on the content of their character than on the color of their skin.”

But one aspect I sincerely hope will not have changed is that there will still be a learner and a wise teacher who together walk through the door to greater knowledge and understanding of a world without limits except for those imposed by a lack of imagination. That fundamental human connection is the glue that has held this world together so far, and it would be a pity if the technological advances I envision in your future society left individuals bereft of social contact in learning environments except through artificial means. I hope your next century fulfills the promise of education to create a more just and equitable society, and we send you our best wishes from 2006.


Dean’s Message for Alumni News

This fall promises to be quite exciting as we close out our centennial celebration and then gear up for new projects and activities in the spring. I want to remind everyone to plan on attending the Centennial Conference Nov. 2-4, “Closing the Achievement Gap through Partnerships,” which will be held at the St. Petersburg Hilton We have an impressive array of national speakers (Marilyn Cochran-Smith, Richard Rothstein, Etta Hollins, and Heather Weiss), an excellent panel discussion with leading superintendents across the state, and numerous presentations by our college faculty and students along with a cross-section of presentations from around the country. This conference is an impressive demonstration of UF’s commitment to ensuring all children have equal access to quality instruction, and underscoring the need to build strong partnerships with families, schools, and community groups in a time of rising economic and social disparities. In addition, each department will feature its own centennial speaker either during the fall or spring semester. Watch this newsletter for more details about the speakers and their topics. Finally, we have three presentations this semester by candidates for the Fien Professorship, and I hope each one will generate a strong audience.

The most exciting research news impacting the entire college has been the new “Science for Life” program that is funded by a $1.5 million dollar grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and with extensive support ($2.5 million) from UF sources. This highly innovative — in fact, one could say truly revolutionary — program will help transform undergraduate education in the life sciences, and will build students’ research capacity from freshmen to postdoctoral associates. More than 10 colleges, 49 departments, and 200 UF faculty are involved in some aspect of this program. Our college is heavily involved in almost all components, including the creation of a new interdisciplinary curriculum for the state of the art Core Lab that will be constructed in the Health Sciences Center, the development of a new science education minor, oversight of a new postdoctoral mentoring program in partnership with Morehouse College, outreach activities with Alliance science teachers, and the internal evaluation of all program activities and outcomes. I serve as one of the co-PI’s and associate directors of the project. Other college faculty working on this project are Tom Dana, Troy Sadler, Linda Behar-Horenstein, Bernie Oliver, Luis Ponjuan, and Mark Shermis. As this program continues over time (we are funded for four years), I fully anticipate there will be additional opportunities for other college faculty to become involved if they are interested. But be forewarned; some of us are finding this program so all-consuming we are now dreaming about it!

Last year, the dominant thrust was a focus on strengthening and enhancing the research culture within the college. Under the leadership of Associate Dean Paul Sindelar, we made great progress, and activities planned this year will build upon those initiatives. This year, the issues that will now become more prominent are redefining public scholarship and creating trans-disciplinary programs. While our college has featured a variant of public scholarship (the scholarship of engagement), this model does not fully account for the variety and complexity of other forms of research that also fit within a broader definition of public scholarship that increasingly characterizes many public research universities. The question of trans-disciplinary programs is important because President Machen’s strategic work plan for the university strongly emphasizes greater collaboration among all academic units, and major funding from foundations and federal agencies parallels his thinking. The recent HHMI award (the first ever for this university) is an excellent example, and the fact that UF committed so much in internal funds is a clear signal of both the president’s and the provost’s priorities as they seek to enhance the national reputation of this university. As we move forward in the development of our own strategic work plan, we need to keep these points in mind.

In future columns, I plan to keep everyone informed of new directions the university and the college will take in response to the rapidly changing landscape in higher education. Now entering my fifth year as dean, I continue to be impressed and amazed at the wealth of talent, energy and ideas we have in our college, and I expect us to have another outstanding year. Living in Florida, it’s hard to avoid using meteorological allusions, so I’ll close by saying who needs hurricanes when the college of education has become the new driving force behind the winds of change sweeping across campus.

— Dean Catherine Emihovich.


Message from the Dean

2006 is off to a great start, with the countdown to our first Centennial Celebration event under way. Because so much is happening this year, a College calendar of events will be sent out on e-mail and posted on the Web. This calendar will be updated biweekly; if you want your event posted, send details to include contact information to News and Publications at news@coe.ufl.edu.

In this column, I want to update everyone on the activities associated with our Strategic Task Forces. Associate Dean Paul Sindelar is doing an excellent job of keeping everyone informed of the latest news from the Office of Research and other activities tied to the ideas and suggestions gained from two research retreats this past fall. Although the primary focus this year is on enhancing the research culture, the other task forces are busy with related activities that either link to this objective or to enhancing the overall College climate. Below, I report on two groups, outreach scholarship, and faculty/student recruitment, retention and professional development. Next month, I will discuss initiatives related to the task force on Curriculum and Program Development. A full report of all groups’ activities will be presented at the Spring Faculty meeting in April.

Don Pemberton and Nancy Dana co-chair the task force on outreach scholarship. Along with Bernie Oliver, they have begun meeting to discuss ways to link the work within their three centers (Alliance, Center for School Improvement, Lastinger Center for Learning) to a shared framework that embodies the principles of outreach scholarship. These discussions are in the preliminary stage, and anyone who is interested in providing input should contact them.

A second objective for this task force is to begin articulating criteria that will help inform discussions of tenure and promotion. This far more complex task has not yet begun since the FPC Faculty and Budgetary Affairs Committee needs to be involved as well, and their plate is already full this year. It is on the radar screen as a discussion that I hope will get under way early next year.

Barbara Pace and Michael Bowie co-chair the faculty/student task force, and I have asked them to organize a faculty diversity workshop based on a similar presentation by Joanne Moody to the entire campus last fall. My office will pay for all the materials for that workshop, and the topic is very timely since it focuses on supporting and mentoring junior faculty. The information is important not just for faculty, but for graduate students who are planning a career in higher education. Barbara and Michael will be contacting members of their group soon, and anyone else who has a particular interest in this topic should get in touch with them. The tentative date for this workshop is sometime in March, after spring break.

With such a large college, and with so many activities, initiatives and events under way, it is difficult to keep everyone informed and make people feel they can be part of the process. This newsletter is just one of the communication channels the Dean’s Office uses to let everyone know what’s going on, and how they can be involved if they so choose. Other channels include reading the FPC minutes and the Chairs’ meeting minutes, obtaining feedback from FPC and Faculty Senate representatives, and visiting the College Intranet and public Web site.

Stay tuned, and fasten your seat belts, because it’s going to be an exciting, fast-paced year!

– Catherine Emihovich, Dean


Message from the Dean

I hope everyone was able to attend our opening Centennial event with The New York Times columnist David Brooks earlier this month, because it was an absolutely wonderful way to begin our celebration. Our speaker was everything we hoped he would be – funny, charming and very engaged with the panelists and audience – and President Machen began the evening by reciting many of the College’s accomplishments in the first 100 years. The audience turnout was great, with more than 300 people in attendance. If you did miss this event, you can view photos on the COE Intranet at http://intranet.coe.ufl.edu/. We also hosted our first Fien lecturer, Dr. Robert Jimenez, from Vanderbilt University, and we will be hosting Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings from the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Friday, Feb. 17. Please check the calendar listing that is sent out biweekly by Events Coordinator Jodi Mount, or watch for details on the Web site or the coE-News.

In last month’s column, I provided an update on the activities of three of the Strategic Task Forces: research, outreach scholarship, and faculty/student, recruitment, retention, and professional development. In this column, I describe some of the initiatives that are either under way or in the planning stages for curriculum and program development. One important point to note is that many of these initiatives began through faculty efforts, as they should. The role of my office, and other supporting offices, is to facilitate these efforts by providing resources to bring the ideas to fruition, but the best ideas are still generated by faculty (and students in some cases) since they constitute the heart of the educational enterprise.

Those of you involved in teacher education already know that the State Board of Education has approved several sweeping rule changes that will make it considerably easier to develop new programs for teacher preparation. One idea that is already well under way is adding an international component to the education minor. Theresa Vernetson is heading up this initiative, and she has heard from about 20 faculty who would like to be involved. Anyone else who wants to learn more about this initiative should contact Dr. Vernetson.

A second initiative is focused on developing new models for leadership preparation. This is an interdisciplinary collaboration between Educational Administration and Policy and Special Education. Already, two school districts have expressed interest, and we expect more to be added as the word spreads. The new job-embedded master’s degree program that is a joint collaboration between the School of Teaching and Learning and the Lastinger Center for Learning was just launched this spring, and already it is taking off faster than we predicted. At present, it is focused on teachers’ professional development, but we expect to add a leadership component fairly soon, perhaps by this summer.

A third initiative that is still in the planning stages is a new program for preparing math/science teachers in collaboration with the College of Arts and Sciences. This program has the potential to increase UF’s production of math/science teachers by a substantial margin, and will help the university meet both state and national goals in enhancing students’ capacity in these critical areas. Our College is also a partner in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant proposal that was submitted last fall, and if funded, we will be deeply involved in undergraduate science education in the life sciences across campus in four different colleges: Agriculture, Engineering, CLAS, and Medicine.

One common characteristic that these initiatives share, along with those still emerging, is our close collaboration with departments, centers or other units on campus. This interdisciplinary collaboration is an essential component of both the university and the College strategic plans, and it is exciting to see so many people becoming involved with these efforts. Many faculty have also told me how stimulating they find these cross-disciplinary conversations, and I encourage everyone who either wants to join one of these initiatives, or to start one of their own, to talk to me about their ideas so I can connect you with the appropriate persons. We all need to begin thinking about the College’s legacy for the next 100 years, and these conversations provide an ideal forum for doing so.

Catherine Emihovich, Dean


Dean’s Message – March, 2006

Best ideas flourish in a ‘blue-sky’ culture

As we wind down this semester, it appears that the initiatives launched by the Office of Educational Research, and supported by the strategic task force on research and the FPC Research Advisory Committee, have been a resounding success. All the Fien speakers were extremely well received, with standing room audiences at the main presentations and the small seminars. Departments have begun bringing in speakers on special topics related to their interests, and the audience for the faculty presentations at the alumni luncheon series continues to grow. Multiple searches are now drawing to a close, and we have recruited a dynamic group of new faculty who will be joining us in the fall to complement our existing faculty. Several of them have expressed strong interest in the “scholarship of engagement model” and one exciting development is that we are now approaching the point where several departments will have a critical mass of faculty who are intensely focused on incorporating tenets of this model into their research, teaching, and service. The SOE nominations committee also reported that they received 20 nominations for the five awards (PKY chooses its own recipient), a further indication this model is shaping many faculty members’ work.

Building a culture of research can only succeed in an environment where a culture of ideas exists to support it. The term, ‘blue sky,’ has always been a favorite expression of mine, since it suggests an infinite realm of possibilities that are limited only by people’s imagination, giving them the space to create programs and projects that do not yet exist, or to play with ideas even when they seem hopelessly impractical, crazy, or just plain foolish. Innovative businesses and organizations often fund ‘blue sky incubators’ just to remove people from the realm of their mundane daily experiences to get their creative juices flowing. One of the rules for participating in such an environment is that one can never say, “But we’ve always done it this way,” a guaranteed way to deaden enthusiasm almost immediately. Rather surprisingly, universities that one would think of as places where cutting edge research and ideas can emerge instead too often are so enmeshed in traditions that they cannot ‘break set’ and see the world differently.

The factors that enable a culture of ideas to flourish are simple. First, people need to believe that if they present a new idea, it will not meet with immediate and/or difficult resistance. While it’s only natural to be anxious about rapid changes, especially if they seem beyond one’s control, being open and receptive to listening to new ideas is a necessary but not sufficient condition. Second, people need to know that support is available to bring ideas to fruition, either in the form of encouragement, or financial assistance. While I agree that funds for seed projects can be very beneficial, I have often found that some of the best ideas need minimal support in the initial stages, and if successful, often generate additional support at a later point in time. Third, people need to trust that if they present new ideas and even implement them, they will not be sanctioned if the ideas fail. Many people carry inside the child who was constantly told – ‘don’t do this, don’t do that’- until as adults they stopped trying to do anything new at all. The famed developmental psychologist, Jean Piaget, studied children’s mistakes because he found them to be better predictors of how children learned. As long as the consequences for making mistakes are not too severe, taking risks can have huge payoffs for moving an organization in new directions.  Judging by the flurry of ideas for new projects and programs I hear about constantly across the College, it seems faculty and students are truly living up to our centennial slogan – Celebrating the past and educating for the future.

Even though our focus this year was on encouraging faculty and students to generate new ideas for research projects, our staff should know their ideas are welcomed as well for improving life within the college. I note that the annual staff luncheon has now been recast as the staff luau, which makes it a much more playful event. I look forward to seeing how Hawaiian ideas get translated into a Floridian context, and the ‘relaxed’ attire no doubt everyone will be wearing. As long as no one expects me to wear a grass skirt and dance the hula, the event should be great fun.

–Catherine Emihovich



Dean’s Message

On rankings, ‘education debt’ and outreach scholarship

The 2007 U.S. News & World Report rankings of America’s best graduate schools has just been released, and when I saw it, the old adage, “Live by the sword; die by the sword,” quickly came to mind, although in our case, it is national rankings. While we were disappointed to see that we dropped from 25th to 35th place, it was not a surprise. Given the change we made in how we reported total research expenditures, including those from P.K. Yonge (which are now far more accurate and realistic), we knew it would happen, an even stronger reminder of how important securing external funds has become in higher education. At the same time, I was very pleased to note that two programs increased their rankings (Counselor Education moved up to No. 2; Special Education moved back into the top ten at No. 9) and two new programs were now ranked (Elementary Education at No. 12; Curriculum & Instruction at No. 22). We also remain the highest ranked college of education in the state, and one of the highest ranked colleges on campus. I am confident that with the new faculty we have hired to complement our already strong faculty, and with the leadership of the Office of Educational Research by Associate DeanPaul Sindelar , we will soon rise again, and perhaps even surpass our earlier rankings.

As I write this column, I am still in San Francisco attending the American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual meeting, and I am struck by how well this year’s theme, educational research and the public interest, maps to the work being done in our college. Gloria Ladson Billings gave a brilliant and inspirational presidential address, and her central point was that society does not have an achievement gap, but instead has an “education debt” that is owed to children who have been marginalized and have suffered from an appalling lack of resources for quality education since the time this country was founded. While she did a wonderful analysis that walked the audience through different historical periods, she did not take the next step of outlining the ways in which this “debt” can be repaid. I believe the engaged scholarship paradigm that we are building in our college illustrates how educational institutions can provide their share. As I have said before, the initiatives developed by the three outreach centers (the UF Alliance, Center for School Improvement, and the Lastinger Center for Learning), coupled with the work being done in the departments and PKY, dramatically demonstrate that a passionate commitment to equity and social justice combined with first-rate, research-based practices and dissemination strategies can begin to make a difference. My belief is that as more and more people across the country recognize the validity of these approaches, which are firmly grounded in the cultural contexts of family and community values, we will lead other higher education institutions in reshaping educational research to align with the public interest, and contribute to the public good.

On April 20 we will honor this year’s recipients of the Scholarship of Engagement awards, and recognize our donors who have contributed to student scholarships. I encourage everyone to attend if possible, since any remaining proceeds are used to provide funds for students who need additional financial assistance for special circumstances. Provost Janie Fouke will be our guest speaker, and a strong turnout will demonstrate to her the leadership role our college can play across campus in addressing critical issues for children and families as noted in President Machen’s draft work plan. Rankings may come and go, but the needs of high-poverty children being served by our programs will continue across time, and that is where many of us will concentrate our energy and resources to make one small payment on a “education debt” that is long overdue.

–Catherine Emihovich
Professor and Dean


Dean’s Message: May-June, 2006

This will be my last coE-News column until the fall semester when the e-newsletter resumes distribution. We have had an exciting past year, especially during the spring semester when our year-long Centennial activities began in January, 2006. This semester ended with another excellent commencement ceremony organized by Assistant Dean Theresa Vernetson, highlighted by the commencement address delivered by nationally syndicated columnist Cynthia Tucker (editorial page editor of the Atlanta Constitution). Her remarks were both deeply personal and thoughtful as she acknowledged the key role many educators played in her family life, and emphasized the need to have high quality teachers in our most challenged schools.

One of the hottest issues in education today is the press for students to have an international experience, and for universities to develop partnerships with other institutions around the world. We are adding an international component to some of our degree programs, most notably the International Leadership in Educational Technology (ILET) doctoral program housed in the School of Teaching and Learning. Two of our faculty—Tom  Oakland (School Psychology) and Rick Ferdig (School of Teaching and Learning)—were recently named UF International Educators of the Year and several Counselor Education faculty have shaped their research agendas with international partners in Australia and Singapore. Theresa Vernetson is working with several departments to create an international education minor where our students would have an opportunity to observe in schools abroad.

This past March, I participated in a People to People delegation to China. This program, which has been operating since 1957, was created under President Eisenhower to facilitate cultural contacts with other countries, primarily those with a Communist government. Given the political changes that have occurred since then, the range of countries has shrunk considerably, although the program also includes visits to places that have begun expanding their international outreach such as South Africa.  We visited three cities – Beijing, Guilin, and Shanghai – and the experience was memorable. During the visit, I was able to observe elementary, middle, and high school classes, and to meet with university peers at Beijing University, Guilin Teachers College, and Shanghai Normal University. During the fall semester, I will share my observations at a brown bag lunch since I found both some fascinating contrasts with our system, along with surprisingly similar professional development components at the K-12 level. China is clearly becoming a dominant force in global education, and we need to understand their educational system better if we are to work successfully with our counterparts.

While the summer is still a very busy time for many faculty and students, it does provide a brief opportunity for the college administration to catch our breath on scheduling events, and get ready for the fall. The main event in the fall will be our Centennial Conference, which will be held at the St. Petersburg Hilton, November 2-4, with four very dynamic national speakers: Marilyn Cochran-Smith, Richard Rothstein, Etta Hollins, and Heather Weiss. Each of the departments will also be featuring a lecture with an invited speaker on a specific topic. And of course we will have our college faculty reception to welcome new and returning faculty.  Enjoy the summer and relax if possible, because it will be another active fall season. We just have to hope that the weather does not take its cue from us; more action on the storm front is on no one’s wish list!