It was quite an honor to be asked to serve as the interim dean of Baylor’s School of Education this summer. I had just ended my second term as chair in the Department of Educational Psychology and agreed to join the dean’s office as associate dean of research and graduate education when our then-dean, Dr. Michael McLendon, agreed to accept the appointment as Baylor’s interim provost. I spent most of July learning about the various functions of the Dean’s Office staff and offices in the School that I had little knowledge of as a faculty member and department chair. While I previously had felt that I had a fairly good idea of what the School’s faculty were doing, after the summer, a few things stood out to me and have become more acute in importance to me about our School.
First, I was inspired by how much faculty and students do in the summer with local school children, teachers and parents. I visited with participants in the Summer Literacy Institute, Math Teachers Academy, Mathematics Early Learning Academy, iEngage Summer Civics Institute, CDF Freedom Schools program, Autism Camp, University for Young People, and the Private School Conference. All of these summer programs represent our faculty’s desire to serve and impact our community and state through innovation in their areas of expertise.
Second, I learned — and continue to learn — about the level of philanthropy that benefits our School and students. I am amazed at the scholarship funding that our alumni and friends of the School have provided and their mission to see scholarships continue to help our undergraduate teacher-education students. The quality of our outstanding students is due in large part to the support of these individuals who generously give to our scholarship funds.
Finally, I have been reminded of the importance of our collaborative and partnering relationships with area schools and our broader community. Without these relationships we could not produce the extraordinary teachers, principals, school psychologists, behavior therapists and researchers that we do. A school of education’s quality can be partially judged by the strength of its relationships with institutions that interact with it.
There are many other facets of the School that are still coming into focus for me, and I look forward to expanding my view. Interim Provost McLendon has launched a vision for the School that I am eager to take up and bring to reality.