By Phyllis Erdman
Interim Dean

Unbelievable. Surreal. These words echoed throughout the College of Education and all the WSU campuses this summer when news spread of the sudden deaths of Dean Judy Mitchell and Associate Dean Len Foster. Their passing, only six days apart, left us in shock.

On a personal level, we mourned the loss of two special friends. As colleagues, we mourned the loss of two great leaders. 

In reflecting on the last two months, I, as interim dean, and Cori Mantle-Bromley, as interim associate dean, believe the best way to honor two such forward-looking leaders is to embrace the future. So that’s what we’ve been doing. Our first task was to reassure everyone that the college will keep moving forward, both within the university system and in tandem with Washington communities, schools and other partners. 

Provost Warwick Bayly has appointed a committee to conduct a national search for a permanent dean, expected to be on board by next July. The committee is chaired by Eric Spangenberg, dean of the College of Business, and includes education faculty members Pamela Bettis, Brian French, Gail Furman, Stephen Kucer, Liza Nagel and Kelly Ward; Kim Holapa, College of Education director of development; and Paul Sturm, superintendent of Pullman schools.  The university will hire a search firm to facilitate the process.

Professors Darcy Miller and Mike Trevisan have graciously accepted interim chair roles, filling in, respectively, for Cori in the Department of Teaching & Learning and me in the Department of Educational Leadership & Counseling Psychology. Darcy and Mike also co-chair the ad hoc Futures Committee, which will review the college structure and make recommendations to prospective deans during the search process.

This fall’s other activities include:

  • Updating our five-year strategic plan so that it will be closely aligned with the new WSU Strategic Plan. We’ve invited input on the draft 2010-2015 plan, and the college leadership team expects to deliver a final plan to the provost for his approval by January.
  • Hiring new faculty.  Searches will soon be under way for full-time educational psychology positions in both Pullman and the Tri-Cities, and an educational leadership position in Vancouver.  We are also advertising post-doctoral research positions in educational psychology and exercise physiology.
  • Focusing on research funding. Cori is leading the effort to increase the number of research grants and gifts coming into the college, which is vital to enhancing scholarship.

The excitement that comes with the start of an academic year is felt on all of our campuses. In Pullman, our Learning & Performance Research Center is officially open, housed in the lower level of Cleveland Hall. In Vancouver, our faculty and staff have moved into the bright new Undergraduate Classroom Building. In the Tri-Cities, the college has welcomed new faculty members Maria Moscatelli and Jennifer Johnson. In Spokane, Assistant Professor Janet Frost has just landed a second state grant to expand the Riverpoint Advanced Mathematics Partnership with area schools.

I look forward to keeping you informed about the search for a dean, and about the accomplishments of our students and faculty. We were all reminded this summer of the need to live each day fully, and to cherish our relationships with family and friends. I wish you all a wonderful year of sharing ahead.