August 26, 2016
Well, here we are at the beginning of another year. It seems like they come closer and closer together the older I get. Today, I want to take some time to let you know what the leadership team is considering as we all work to take the COE to the next level in the context of the new strategic planning effort that is about to start.
While the Cabinet of the university has not finalized the guiding goals of the new plan, it will focus on the following concepts: student success, excellence in academic programs, especially graduate programs, continuing emphasis on research and on progress toward National Research University Fund (NRUF) status, and resources and infrastructure necessary to support our activities.
For us, student success means being student centered, treating all students with dignity and respect, and ensuring that we are serving all the students of Texas. For example, we need to focus not just on enrolling students, especially in teacher education and graduate programs, that are reflective of the ethnic and racial distribution of the student body of the university and the state, but also ensuring their academic success, measured by retention and by graduation. We can do this by exercising sensitivity and support at the same time we maintain rigor and relevance.
We need to make sure that every one of our current programs is using cutting edge, knowledge, technology, and techniques, including frequently evaluating our curricula for relevance and the value of the coursework to our students. One example of value that we can focus on is to work toward a Spanish and English bilingual component in every one of our programs. We also need to assess the job market and the environment continuously to take advantage of new opportunities to serve students and the state, especially with high quality graduate programs, at both master's and doctoral levels. We exist in a very competitive environment and we will only succeed with purposeful vigilance and excellence.
The College of Education has a crucial role to play as the university grows into our status as a research university, specifically NRUF status. We are the historical heart of the university and we have to be leaders in any new mission. We are well on our way to doing so in doctoral education and in STEM education with our partnerships with NASA and with College of Science & Engineering, whose new dean is a true friend of education. We have to leverage our past success in funded research and our investment in infrastructure to date, such as our pre and post award resources, to make significant progress in the next six years. Research and scholarship are not synonymous with external funding, but we cannot shrink from the challenge of increasing both. Our interests in many different facets of wellness, in autism treatment and research, in serving underprepared and underrepresented populations, in bilingual professional practice, and many more areas hold great potential for scholarly impact and for external funding.
As for infrastructure and resources needed to make our vision of excellence in the College of Education come true, in some ways we don't even know yet what will be required. We need to very carefully and thoughtfully dream, build, and plan for the future and let the university know what our needs and our priorities are. During this next semester, you will be asked for your best thinking, individually and collectively, as we build our new strategic plan for 2017–2023. I cannot stress enough how important this is. If you doubt that plans matter, simply look at the green spaces surrounding the Education building...this university does what it plans to do! Or, even better, look at our progress to Emerging Research University status and our 7 fold increase in research expenditures in just over 10 years. Please help us understand the best ways to facilitate your work through the various phases of the planning process. This is my urgent request and my invitation to you.
And now, let's take a few minutes to celebrate your success, symbolized by your colleagues winning over half of all the awards in teaching, research, service, and diversity promotion available to the university. OMG! One college! Our college!
And let's also celebrate the new tenure track faculty for this year that are going to be the next step in moving to the next level. These new faculty members have chosen to come here on purpose–without exception, they did their due diligence and liked what they found out about our faculty and their accomplishments. The word is truly spreading and that's why in C&I we were able to recruit one of the top faculty members in developmental education in the country, as well as two assistant professors who are experts in social justice based pedagogy in and one in STEM methods. These three have degrees from Georgia, Vanderbilt, and Indiana, storied colleges of education,...they are among this year's top draft choices, if you will, and we are proud to have them join us. CLAS had similar success this year with three new hires in the Professional Counseling program, each from excellent programs and with solid experience–one in schools, one combatting child abuse as an advocate, and one in Europe as a counselor–she speaks five languages! School psychology added a bilingual faculty member to help further their grant supported program. Educational Leadership recruited two new faculty trained in instructional leadership and policy from NYU and Berkeley, respectively. Continuing our roll, our top rated Athletic Training program is in the process of significantly bolstering its research capability with the addition of a BYU graduate doing cutting edge research in a variety of therapeutic modalities such as ultrasound and lasers; a UNC product who studies concussions, is a research design expert, and teaches anatomy in cadaver labs; and a Texas A&M grad who is an expert in professional writing and researchers health promotion with underserved children.
Now, I mention all these new faculty for a couple of reasons. First, I want us all to welcome them and help them get their careers started well here at Texas State. Second, ask your colleagues at other schools–how many are hiring 13 new faculty at a time? And this is just another year for us–a few more than usual, but not excessively so. Finally, this is the way we reach the next level. These folks are here because of you–because of the excellent work that you do and your spreading reputation. They will contribute, from their outstanding training and experience, and the whole will be greater than the sum of the parts. We will help each other and collaborate together and we will build the new Texas State College of Education It will be rooted in our glorious history and it will be product of our best efforts and the efforts of those attracted by our success to join us. That's how great universities and colleges strive to be even greater–that's the next level. Let us all dedicate ourselves to getting there! Thank you!