By Phyllis Erdman
The state deficit looms, and with it some painful decisions by the Legislature. As many of you know, the College of Education’s Pullman/Spokane budget was cut 11 percent in 2009, on the heels of a 2.5 percent cutback the year before. (Our Vancouver and Tri-Cities programs face their own difficult decisions.) The new year had barely begun when university administrators asked me to identify more areas of potential reduction.
At the College of Education, we’re also following legislation that could have considerable impact on what we do. That includes an education reform bill that would mandate that state colleges of education create alternate routes for completion of principal and teacher certification programs. We are concerned that the proposal, prompted by Washington’s pursuit of federal stimulus dollars, will cost colleges money we don’t have to fix problems that our state doesn’t have, namely many large, underperforming school districts with severe shortages of teachers. Whatever the legislative outcome, we look forward to strong participation in Gov. Christine Gregoire’s ongoing efforts to reform education.
While the lawmakers propose and debate, our college is abuzz with interesting activities this semester. Among them:
- The search for a dean is well under way, and we expect to have a new leader on board by July. In anticipation of spring interviews with the finalists, at which the future of the college will be the prime topic, faculty and staff participated in a series of recent forums to discuss whether the college is organized in the best and most efficient way. Stay tuned…
- We are also interviewing candidates for four faculty positions: two in educational psychology (for Pullman and the Tri-Cities) and two in educational leadership (for Tri-Cities and Vancouver).
- The Northwest Land Grant Alliance—a consortium of five regional colleges of education that was championed by our late dean, Judy Mitchell—is planning its first joint research effort.
- Speaking on a subject dear to our hearts, Enrique Murillo, author of Handbook of Latinos in Education, will be in Pullman on February 17 to discuss how to maintain a focus on diversity in times of fiscal stress. Sponsors of his visit include the Education Graduate Organization, Future Teachers and Leaders of Color, and the Ellison Faculty Fellowship.
- A college fund raiser has so far brought in several thousand dollars to aid the Chances for Children orphanage in earthquake-ravaged Haiti. The effort was initiated by Interim Associate Dean Cori Mantle-Bromley, who visited the Ti Mache orphanage and school and found the zeal for education there to be “as strong as anywhere I’ve ever been.”
- The college is sponsoring the sixth annual Globalization, Diversity and Education Conference. For the first time, it will be held on the Riverpoint campus in Spokane. The February 25-27 multidisciplinary conference will draw academics from throughout the United States and abroad. Events that are open to the public include a presentation by award-winning filmmaker Velcro Ripper, described as “a lot like his movies—friendly, hopeful, full of electrifying ideas.”