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Dean's Update No. 24

Important information for Penn State College of Education faculty and staff from the Office of the Dean.

August 25, 2009

Welcome to the new academic year. This has been an unusual summer in many respects, and I report below on a couple of significant developments.


1. Budget


As I write, we are still awaiting word on what Penn State’s appropriation will be in the Commonwealth’s budget. You may have read over the summer that the Penn State trustees chose to work on the assumption that the Legislature would restore at least some of the proposed cuts to the state-related universities’ budgets and approved the more modest tuition increases that were under consideration. As a consequence, all budget executives at Penn State have been instructed to set aside an additional 1% for possible recycling in case the cuts are imposed. Obviously, this puts additional pressure on our budget. I will keep you informed about how we will handle this additional recycling if it becomes necessary to make this further reduction in our budget.


2. Dean's Office Reorganization


We have also been working this summer to think through the reorganization of the dean’s office as we move from a three to a two associate dean model. Our goal is to become more efficient and to maintain the services of the office. There is a new organizational chart for the College. I’m confident that we can succeed with this new model and welcome any questions or suggestions.


3. Diversity Planning


You may be aware that a progress report on our ongoing efforts to implement the Framework to Foster Diversity at Penn State as well as a diversity plan for the period 2010-2015 are both due in Vice Provost Terrell Jones’ office on December 1st. We have been developing a planning process that will be similar in spirit to the process we used to develop the Strategic Plan for the College that we submitted last summer. A steering committee will be in place to guide the development of the plan and the membership of this committee is broadly representative of the College and is similar to the membership of the steering committee for the Strategic Plan. We believe the similarity of the committee is an advantage as we seek to build connections between our Diversity Plan and our Strategic Plan. The Steering Committee membership is as follows: Gail Boldt, Myrna Covington, Jim Herbert, Jonna Kulikowich, Susan Land, David McNaughton, David Monk, Maria Schmidt, John Tippeconnic, and Rose Zbiek.

In addition, there will be study teams working on the various challenges that are described in the new Framework to Foster Diversity at Penn State 2010-2015 which can be found at The following individuals have graciously agreed to serve as co-chairs for each of five study teams: Kimberly Griffin, Richard Hazler, Jerry Henry, Charleon Jeffries, Judy Kolb, Lisa Lattuca, Dana Mitra, Elizabeth Mellin, Judy Nastase, Jim Nolan, Rayne Sperling, Jeanine Staples, and Anne Whitney. The Study Teams will be asked to engage with the entire College and there will be numerous opportunities to provide input either as a member of the Study Team or as an interested citizen of the College.

A College-wide retreat will be held on September 22nd that will be led by the Penn State Office of Planning and Institutional Assessment. For the sake of broadening participation in the planning process, we are not restricting participation in the retreat to those serving on the Steering Committee or in leadership roles for the Study Teams. If you are interested in participating in the retreat, please inform your Department Head or the administrator for your unit as soon as possible.

We are also working on the progress report that is due in Dr. Jones’ office on December 1st. This report on our past efforts to implement the Framework will inform the development of our new plan.

This planning process is a work in progress and comments are welcome as we move forward. We do not have lots of time, but I have great confidence that we will pull together and generate a plan that will serve us well.


4. Swine Flu Planning


The University is keeping abreast of developments regarding the H1N1 virus through information from the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Please attend to official university email and news alerts regarding these developments, and please contact your Department Head or the Dean’s office if you have questions about academic policies and procedures.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations, faculty and staff should not attend class or other public gatherings while they have the illness. A specific guideline from the CDC on how many days to remain isolated from others after the illness is expected soon. If you are responsible for a course, please clarify with your Department Head how you will communicate with your students if you become ill. We will be developing contingency plans to cover courses as best as we can. Class cancellations, if necessary, will be handled within each Department. Consideration should also be given ahead of time to developing consistent procedures to enable students to make up work as well as exams.

The Provost is encouraging faculty to reinforce the self-isolation guidelines for those experiencing flu symptoms and to provide information about how students can notify faculty of illness in course syllabi. The relevant academic policy is E-11 ( which provides students with reasonable opportunities to make up missed work. Students and faculty may address any questions about academic policy to Associate Dean Jackie Edmondson and health-related questions to Dr. Margaret Spear, Director of University Health Services.

We will share further information as it is received.


5. New Tenure Line Faculty Hires


Even in the face of a very tight budget, we have made a number of very impressive new appointments to the faculty. The following individuals are recent additions to the tenure line faculty:

Fran Arbaugh -- Associate Professor with tenure, Mathematics Education
John Cheslock -- Associate Professor with tenure, Higher Education
Stephanie Knight -- Professor with tenure, Educational Psychology (started Jan 2009)
Gwen Lloyd -- Professor with tenure, Mathematics Education
Leticia Oseguera -- Assistant Professor, tenure track, Higher Education (spring 2010)
Deirdre O’Sullivan -- Assistant Professor, tenure track, Rehabilitation Services
Paul Riccomini -- Associate Professor with tenure, Special Education (fall 2010)
Liang Zhang -- Assistant Professor, tenure track, Eductional Theory and Policy


6. New Staff Appointments


The following individuals have been appointed to full time staff positions in the College:

Cindy Bierly -- CECPR, Administrative Support Coordinator
Cindy Fetters -- LPS, Administrative Support Coordinator
Susan Bass -- EPS, Administrative Support Assistant
Trudi Haupt -- EPS, Administrative Support Coordinator


7. Dean’s Graduate Assistantships


In keeping with a commitment we made in the College’s Strategic Plan, we will be moving forward with the creation of a new program of graduate assistantships for doctoral students. All doctoral programs in the College will be eligible for these assistantships and the goal is to recruit and retain the very best graduate student talent into the College. We will be advertising this program prominently in national media (Education Week and the Chronicle of Higher Education as well as elsewhere), and we expect to make between 4 and 7 Dean’s Assistantship appointments for the graduate students who will be joining us in the fall of 2010. This is an exciting step forward for us as a College. You can read more here. 




The Center for Educational and Developmental Sciences (CEADS -- pronounced “Seeds”), under the leadership of Drs. Tom Farmer and Karen Murphy, has created two new positions to facilitate the scientific support of external grant proposals. A half-time research technologist position has been created to support the development of resources that will facilitate the efficient and effective preparation of proposals. This will involve creating a file of model proposals for a variety of agencies and funding mechanisms, a bank of measures for key constructs of interest in educational research, and templates pertaining to resources and facilities. Sharon Gaddes has joined us in this position. Sharon completed a master’s degree in liberal arts at Hood University. Sharon will also work halftime for the new externally funded Training Interdisciplinary Educational Sciences (TIES) program. Further, a half-time research scientist position has been created to provide support to investigators on the development of analytic plans for proposals including issues in research design and statistical analyses. Dr. Robert Petrin will be working in this role. Rob has a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Chicago, he completed postdoctoral training in research methods at the Prevention Research Center, and he has attended the IES summer institute on conducting cluster randomized trials in educational settings. In addition to his work for CEADS, Rob is a scientist on the Rural High School Aspirations Study.




By the time you read this, the College will have held its first Convocation for teacher education students who are participating in the EDUCATE initiative. Our goals are to begin building a more cohesive community and help set student expectations about notebook computers and teacher education. The principal impetus for this is a direct result of our first year experience with EDUCATE.

As we begin the new academic year, EDUCATE, under the direction of Dr. Orrin Murray, is poised to grow programmatically and geographically. Currently limited to the Elementary and Kindergarten Education program at both the Altoona and University Park campuses and the Secondary English Education program, our notebook computer requirement will see expansion over this year and next. The World Language program will be exploring ubiquitous computing with a cohort of students this academic year. Twenty-five students will be loaned notebook computers to use in their World Language courses on the University Park campus this fall and they will carry those notebooks with them in their study abroad immersion program in the spring. While engaged in immersion programs, these students will stay connected to both University Park instructors and K-12 classrooms where they will be doing their student teaching next fall. Our plan is to understand what to expect when students in the fall of 2010 are required to bring notebook computers to their World Language courses. The Special Education Program will also be joining the World Language program as EDUCATE expands across more teacher education programs in the fall of 2010. In addition to these new program areas, the Berks and Brandywine campuses will be coming on board with EDUCATE in the fall of 2010.

While we are expanding the number of students and faculty using notebook computers, a small group of faculty members has already begun the first forays into what we think will be the next frontier in ubiquitous computing. More information will be available soon.


10. Innovation Studio


The College of Education is in the process of creating a space and culture of innovation in teaching with technology called the Innovation Studio. The focus of the Innovation Studio will be to build capacity among our internationally recognized faculty to integrate innovative technology into research, teaching and learning, and outreach. The Innovation Studio will be a place where faculty receive support for re-conceptualizing their work in ways that take advantage of innovative technologies, including digital video, Web 2.0 tools, mobile and ubiquitous computing, and other emerging technologies that are at this point still on the horizon. Penn State’s College of Education is committed to maintaining our leadership in developing innovative research-based teaching practices that take advantage of modern digital tools, and we have identified ongoing professional development for faculty as a strategic area of importance. Access to new technologies has the potential to provide remarkable opportunities for the next generation of educational professionals. The initial director of the Innovation Studio will be Dr. Scott McDonald.


11. Drinking Water Quality


You may be aware of a student group within the College (3E-COE) that is providing leadership for the University regarding environmental issues, including the problems associated with plastic water and soda bottles. Further information about this group is available at their blog located at: During the fall semester, these students will be working with OPP to evaluate and upgrade where necessary the taste and appearance of water coming from water fountains and kitchenette sinks throughout the College. We also anticipate the installation of water filling stations in the College. This is part of a University effort to reduce dependence on plastic bottles, and the College has agreed to be part of the pilot program. We can be proud of our students’ leadership in this effort and you may see them conducting the evaluation of our water sources during the fall semester.


12. New Year Best Wishes


I trust the new academic year is off to a fine start for you, and I welcome any comments or questions. The College’s annual meeting will take place on September 15th at 2:30 at the Nittany Lion Inn, and I’m hoping to see you there. Many thanks.  


David H. Monk
College of Education
Penn State University
275 Chambers Building
University Park, PA  16802-3206
(814) 865-2526
Fax: (814) 865-0555