August 21, 2015
Once again, I find myself addressing the faculty and staff of the best college in the university. I couldn’t be more honored or humbled to serve as your dean. You are doing great things, some of which I will highlight shortly, as I know you are anxious to get back to work. But just briefly I want to let you know what the leadership team is thinking as we approach this new year. Our theme this year is “Taking the College of Education to the next level,” and that’s the point of the reorganization in the college offices that you already heard about. There are many reasons to re-organize—ours is the best one, to be even better than the great college that we already are.
And we really are great. The College of Education is home to the top producing teacher preparation program in the state and we have been for decades now. We are also one of the largest programs in the nation in terms of size and influence. We know we are big—our Advising Center, for example, reaches over 4,000 students in Health and Human Performance and Curriculum and Instruction every semester and attended over 7,000 individual appointments last year, in addition to processing nearly 1,200 graduation applications! But, what of quality? Well, we have strong evidence about our graduates’ quality—we have principal ratings of our new teachers and 5-year teacher retention rates that are incredibly high compared to other education programs. But we want to know more. So, after two years of work our college has access to the state’s education and workforce data warehouse, and this access will allow us to prove our high-quality graduates, right down to the classroom level. We have the CARES Clinic, one of the best facilities of its kind anywhere, conducting and publishing research, changing the lives of clients, placing students in schools, districts, and internationally known graduate programs. We have our bilingual and ESL programs—did you know that all of our elementary teacher candidates have to have either bilingual or ESL certification to be recommended by Texas State for certification? All of them! We have a state-of-the-art Educational Technology program, high level programs of research and pedagogy in social studies methods, early childhood education, STEM fields, and that doesn’t even count our NASA grants and our cutting-edge maker space lab where children actually practice engineering and science. We have the only Ph. D in Developmental Education in the world, and a high quality Ed. D program aimed at thoughtful practitioners. Our Curriculum & Instruction department is first class and a leader in every field it attempts.
The Counseling, Leadership, Adult Education, and School Psychology (CLAS) Department is home to a nationally accredited School Psychology program, offering a Specialist degree, one of only 5 in the state. That program recently received a $1M+ grant to develop Spanish-English bilingual School Psychologists to better serve Texas. Down the hall is a program with the reputation as the best program in the state for training Professional Counseling practitioners in a variety of specialties, but with a particular world class reputation in Play Therapy and sand tray therapy for children. We have the Student Affairs in Higher Education program that is rapidly gaining a sterling national reputation and routinely recruits and places students nationally and internationally. We have master’s programs that serve all of Central Texas in Adult Education and Educational Leadership, as well as the most productive and diverse doctoral programs in the university in Adult, Professional, and Community Education, and in School Improvement. These are cutting edge programs, with a strong Social Justice focus. 45% of all Texas State University doctoral graduates over the past 3 years have graduated from the CLAS Department. And last but not least, CLAS earned the university’s “Safe Office” designation with more than 75% of full-time faculty & staff completing Allies Training, which is related to respect of all people’s sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
The Health and Human Performance (HHP) department is the fastest growing department in the university, with the fastest growing major, Exercise and Sports Science. In fact, in the last five years HHP has grown by 33% while the University has only grown by 13%. The ESS major has four, high-quality specializations aligned to specific career fields. The pre-rehabilitative sciences concentration produces graduates highly recruited by top allied health graduate programs. Texas State is still the premiere program for teachers of physical education and proudly so. We also have been nationally accredited in Athletic Training for going on 50 years, the first in the state! We are on track to have an accredited master’s program in Athletic Training, one of only 16 in the nation. Our Health Education and Promotion program places everyone who graduates in a variety of nonprofit, governmental, and business organizations. We are nationally accredited in our Recreation programs with a national reputation in recreation programming and therapeutic recreation. Our annual summer camps for autistic children are incredibly innovative and serve as instructional and research labs for our faculty.
I could go on and on and frequently do. The point is that we are good at what we do and that what we do matters! We are, as our mission demands, pursuing excellence, relevance, and engagement in all that we do. We are evidence-based, caring professionals and so are our graduates in a wide variety of settings and fields. We have much to be proud of.
And, yet….the world waits for no one. We exist in a climate of change in our state and our university is focusing its effort on becoming eligible for National Research University funding within the next decade. We are called to get better, to improve our research and external funding, to raise our expectations for all our faculty, pre-tenured, tenured, and non-tenure line. Texas State is a major university now—it is time to take our place as a leader, especially the College of Education. It’s time to go to the next level. And, so, we are and so, we will. In the next year, we will, through the activities of the new Associate Dean for Teacher Education and Academic Affairs, do all the things we have been doing right, but also take steps to move into influence and leadership roles in teacher education regionally and nationally. This befits our stature as a long-time leader in fact, if not in recognition. To bolster our claim, we will marshal resources and encourage and support activities that are part of a strategic and innovative research program around teacher education, the likes of which this state has never seen. We have a similar opportunity to leverage our several program efforts in understanding and combatting autism. I want us to collaborate where possible and bring the funding and the talent to bear across departments in this and all areas and our Associate Dean for Research and External Funding and her team will be leading this effort. Our STEM activities are bearing fruit, but there is much more fruit out there and our collaboration with the College of Science and Engineering is just beginning and must intensify. Our Developmental Education program needs to grow and needs to exhibit even more leadership in this nascent field of research and scholarship. We can lead in School Psychology, through our Hispanic serving bilingual activities. Indeed, all of our programs should pursue a bilingual component in some way to stay relevant to the communities in which we live and serve. Every program can become more diverse in our student body and in our research. In this way, we will serve Texas better. In this way, we will lead, as we should.
These are just some ideas and areas in which I think we can take immediate steps. If I left your area or program out of these examples, then make it impossible for me to do so the next time I am speaking. Help me know where you can lead by going back to your program meetings and considering what taking your teaching and research and service to the next level looks like. Figure out what it will take to get there and then let your chair know. Over time, we will make it happen. Let’s do this together—let’s give the citizens of Texas the College of Education that they deserve and need. Let’s be what we can be and let’s have fun in the process. Join me in taking the College of Education and Texas State University to the next level.