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Innovation, diversity and collaboration. Building on evidence-based research, tracking program success and reducing duplication — while staying flexible and technologically savvy enough to meet the needs of a rapidly changing world.
These are key concepts from the College of Educations new “Statement of Mission for 2015,” a document nearly two years in the making that sets out a bold plan of action to keep the college and its programs, faculty, students and graduates relevant and competitive in coming years.
It is at once a frank self-appraisal of past and current efforts and a thoughtful promise of changes to come.
“This strategic plan establishes the road map for our efforts to reinvent the work of the UW College of Education,” said Tom Stritikus, who began a five-year tenure as dean in August 2010. “Through rigorous research we seek to transform what is possible in local schools and to serve as a national example.”
Mike Copland, associate professor of education and chair of the colleges Educational Leadership & Policy Studies division, who also headed the Strategic Planning Committee, said while the plan sets out some new initiatives, it also reaffirms directions the college has been working in for some time, and which have kept it high in national rankings. The college is currently ranked 10th among colleges of education nationally by U.S. News & World Report.
“Its a document that will have some life, and some legs, and its pretty representative of things that people here feel are important,” Copland said. The plan is the result of months brainstorming sessions and meetings with faculty, staff, alumni and the colleges off-campus associates. “It was a long process, but folks hung in there and got it done,” he said. “I feel good about it.”
The 12-page plan begins with a strong statement of purpose: “We shape the future success of children and adults by reimagining whats possible for all. We ground our work in evidence because it helps us to judge the quality of our efforts. We commit to continuously improving the way we work to develop democratic citizens, engage students in high quality learning, an promote justice through education.”
The document comprises five strategic goals, each followed by specific examples and discussed in detail.
Goal 1: We strive to work with essential partners to create new designs that are more effective in educating students, conducting research and influencing policy.
The college commits to greater collaboration and even decision making with partners — school districts, early learning centers, and other education and community organizations — and “to push ourselves to be better listeners and observers” and redesign its work to better serve education needs.
“Over the next five to 10 years, we intend to design and test fresh evidence-based strategies to enable young people to graduate from both high school and college, to participate more fully as engaged citizens, and to be competent to work in a global context,” the plan states. The college also will seek to increase the real-world focus of its programs and expand its international connections.
Goal 2: Determining our success through self-examination and reflection.
The college sees the need to more systematically gather and use evidence about student and graduate experiences. “Decision making about programs, hiring and new strategic directions should be underpinned by data” and other evidence of the impact of a College of Education degree. The college also commits to use demographic data with an eye toward further increasing diversity.
Goal 3: Organizing the college to take action quickly, dramatically and effectively.
Proposed changes include restructuring the colleges administrative organization to better reflect its “principal values and research interests.”
Other proposed changes include making curricula less fixed and more fluid, with greater use of seminars and colloquia; and making faculty and staff roles more flexible “so that different people can do the same function, teach the same course (and) handle the same advising questions.” The college also proposes better communication with its external audiences and more focused ways of providing needed information to students.
With budget cuts looming and a slow economic recovery, the college also proposes streamlining certain operations to reduce duplication and do more with less. “Staff and faculty will need to attain new levels of both organizational and fiscal ‘literacy,” the plan states.
Goal 4: Attract, enroll, develop and support outstanding education students from across the state, nation and globe.
Grants and philanthropy have already enlarged the colleges ability to offer financial assistance to attract excellent students. The college will expand efforts to “ensure a predictable, ongoing resource base exists that will attract the highest-quality students in the country and beyond.”
Possible strategies for this include expanding undergraduate study and research offerings and graduate teaching opportunities; seeking less “grant dependent” funding resources and creating new field-based teaching, research and service opportunities.
Goal 5: Increase and build organizational diversity in the broadest terms.
The college commits to working toward “eliminating forms of socio-historical and economic oppression” and continuing to attract a diverse student and faculty population. “We also seek to build our institutional capacity to better serve diverse communities locally and nationally.”
In a sense, the document speaks to the colleges future well beyond 2015.
“It is our hope that over the next five to 10 years we will evolve into a very different college of education — one that is deeply engaged in the world and one that has a valid and reliable track record of contributing to better quality education here at home and abroad.
“Our deepest hope is that while we transform ourselves into a more efficacious institution, we have the privilege of making a difference for others.”