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Dr. Mike Trevisan

Dean's Perspectives

Message from Dean: We will continue combating racism

Dear WSU College of Education community,

Racism in America is deeply seated in the history of this country and unfortunately continues. In recent months, we’ve seen one example after another of despicable, discriminatory, and criminal behavior that has resulted in death for some and trauma for others.

The solutions aren’t simple but that will not stop the College of Education from productively addressing racial injustice. The college will work closely with the university in all of its initiatives.

In addition, one move the college has made is to appoint two faculty members to the position of associate dean of equity and inclusion, beginning August 16 for a term of two years. Dr. Katherine Rodela will focus on faculty and staff development. Dr. Amir Gilmore will focus on student success and retention. These two individuals are strong leaders with respect to equity and inclusion and each brings a unique skill set to the position.

And while we look for good things to come from these two individuals, the onus is not merely theirs to work toward significant change. They will help lead and give recommendations. And then we must all step up and do our part to make important changes.

Read more about the new associate deans

Dining with Deans

I had the wonderful opportunity to have lunch today with five student-athletes from the College of Education. This was part of the “Dining with Deans” initiative established by Athletic Director Pat Chun. We had lunch in the Gray W Jack Thompson Legends Lounge, which is the cafeteria on the fourth floor of the Football Operations Building. Note that the food is healthy, the view was fantastic overlooking the football field, and the company was wonderful.

I met with the following students:

In addition to the students, we were joined by Pat Chun, as well as the department’s Senior Associate Director of Academics/Compliance Thad Hathaway.

I am impressed by the students’ dedication to their sport AND to their academics. All had good things to say about their respective courses, faculty, and programs. Being a Division I athlete, and being a student at a major university, requires dedication, determination, and a certain amount of savvy to make it all work. All of these students clearly have what it takes to succeed.

Some of these students are a long way from home as well; thus, they have made some sacrifice to be here at Washington State University, away from their family and friends. None of them complained. All conveyed in one way or another that being at Washington State University was a privilege.

I came away from the lunch with a renewed sense of connection to the Athletic Department and feeling really good about the quality of our student-athletes.

Go Cougs!

A Flight to Remember

Last Friday, I had the wonderful opportunity to fly on a KC-135 refueling aircraft used by the U.S. Air Force to refuel other military aircraft in the air. Personnel at Fairchild AFB, just outside of Spokane, contacted me and several other educators in the area as a community relations task and a means to thank educators in the Inland Northwest. Administrators and staff from Eastern Washington University, Gonzaga University, Washington State University, and Whitworth University participated in this event. Don Holbrook, the Area Finance Officer for the Provost Office, attended with me as we represented WSU.

Many of the military at Fairchild AFB are graduate students in the Spokane area. In addition, many of these have families with children in schools. Thus, colleges of education were the central focus for this day. The women and men that facilitated the event mentioned how grateful they are for the K-12 teachers that teach their children and high-quality schools in the Spokane area. Those that are officers are reassigned to another base every 2-3 years. Moving like this is clearly a hardship, particularly for those with families. Many voiced that Spokane-area educators understand this and provide a level of support that helps them and their families with the difficulties of moving to a new location.

The KC-135 is a Boeing 707, built in 1964. While an older aircraft, the mechanical and other service these aircraft receive is second-to-none. Air Force personnel that day mentioned that the aircraft are so reliable and enduring the last pilot of this KC-135 hasn’t even been born yet! I learned that the air refueling squadron at Fairchild Air Force Base is the largest in the world (except the remainder of the continental US).

Once inside the plane, one immediately notices the wide-open space for cargo. Though I fly a lot, there was a bit more duct tape holding things together than I am accustomed. There is a restroom on board and it is up front, just like you would find on a Horizon flight. That’s where the similarity to Horizon ends, however. They call it a “latrine,” which is a more accurate description.

We were scheduled to experience an actual refueling in air. The refueling was canceled while we were in flight. We did get to operate the “boom”, however. The boom is the tube that extends from the plane to refuel another aircraft. It extends only 15 feet. Picture, two aircraft 15 feet vertically apart from one another, and working to insert the boom into the portal on the other aircraft to receive the fuel. All of this obviously takes tremendous training and skill to do correctly. We watched film of this being done. It is most impressive.

This is merely an example of a refueling mid-air.

To operate the boom, the boom operator lies on their stomach in the back of the plane, puts their chin in a chin rest, and looks out a window that is underneath the fuselage of the aircraft in order to observe the boom and the aircraft below.

There are levers and controls to manipulate the boom that require both the left and right hands to operate. There are also gauges that must be read to monitor the progression of the boom. And, of course, the end goal is to insert the boom into the portal of the aircraft flying below so that fuel can be transferred.

With directions from the boom sergeant I retracted, extended, and moved the boom from left to right and back again. While this was quite interesting for me, I am sure I couldn’t pass any sort of test to be a boom operator today, even with training.

This is an example of a refueling.

On the descent, I had the good fortune (we chose numbers and I won!) of sitting in the jump seat, between the two pilots.

All in all, this was quite a treat for me. The skill and professionalism of the military at Fairchild AFB was impressive. I also saw more closely just how interconnected colleges of education are to the military and their families. I think everyone present will remember this flight for a good while.

The view from the skies was spectacular.

Annyong haseyo from Seoul Korea!

I am in the middle of my second week of my first Fulbright Specialist visit working at Korea University (KU) in Seoul, so I wanted to drop a quick note to update the college and its supporters on how things are going. I have been on the other side of jetlag for several days now, have a routine going, and enjoy coming to the office each day.

The weather last week was downright cold. It snowed here last Wednesday. Since this last Sunday, however, it has been in the low- to mid-60s and is projected to be this way for the remainder of my stay. With the improvement in the weather, students are out late, and the energy among students is high.

Koreans love their coffee! There are many local coffeehouses near campus. All of this is in addition to coffeehouses on the KU campus, as well as a couple of Starbucks close by. And the coffee is good at these places! I’ve tried several of them.

Koreans refer to the SKY universities as being the most desirable universities in Korea. SKY stands for Seoul National University, Korea University, and Yonsei University. KU also has a strong international initiative and has many students from different countries throughout the world. I met with the associate dean for research the other day to explore student exchanges. I will have lunch with the dean on Friday to discuss these possibilities further.

The work I am doing deals with the idea of school counseling as a means to address student issues that plague schools throughout the world. The increasing global awareness of school counseling as a means to address these issues is really interesting to me. There are many countries who have recently established professional school counselors in their schools or countries that are seriously considering this implementation. While the roles, definitions, training, and skills differ from country to country, all are have a singular purpose: to support educators and families address personal issues students face so that they can focus on their education.

Baseball in Korea

Korea has made a major investment in school counselors and is positioned to become a global leader in addressing student issues as they have also implemented what they refer to as WEE centers (We education + We emotion) in school districts in Korea. The centers are staffed with school counselors, mental health counselors, social workers, and clinical psychologists. My collaborator and I toured a WEE center last week. It was most impressive. We think other countries will be interested the WEE center concept and want to implement something similar.

I am working with my collaborator, other faculty, and graduate students. The policy research and program evaluation work we are developing as a research team is faculty work that I am thoroughly enjoying. It is wonderful to be on the beautiful KU campus, full of bright and energetic students and faculty.

I have attended a baseball game with faculty and students. The game was the season opener for the Dooson Bears. They were playing at home and many of the graduate students with whom I attended were pulling for Dooson. But in the end, they unfortunately lost to the Samsung Lions.

I also had dinner with a new colleague at a restaurant that overlooks the Han River, the main river that runs through Seoul. It is easily the width of the Columbia River and is stunning in its beauty and grandeur.

The people here at KU are very supportive and have made my stay in Seoul comfortable and one that I will remember with fondness. The hospitality is second to none.

The only way to fully describe the experience is that it is all a privilege.

Fulbright Specialist Communication Disclaimer

This blog does not reflect the views of the U.S. Government, Department of State, or any affiliated organization. The views are solely those of the author, Mike Trevisan.

Our continued partnership with Khon Kaen University

I am now back from Khon Kaen, Thailand. Recall that the college has had a formal partnership with the Faculty of Education at Khon Kaen University (KKU) for 15 years. I usually like to communicate about college international trips while I am there. In this case, I simply had no time. As part of this trip, Paula Groves Price and I provided keynote addresses to an international curriculum conference being held in Khon Kaen. As part of the meeting, we also listened to graduate student presentations and provided formal feedback for master and doctoral students. In addition, we provided workshops for graduate students that lasted the better part of two days.

Getting to Khon Kaen is no simple task. Flights from Spokane to Seattle, Seattle to Tokyo, Tokyo to Bangkok, and Bangkok to Khon Kaen are required. Those that do the trip know just how demanding the travel is and it is a bit of a bond we share with our Khon Kaen colleagues who travel to WSU. The only way these relationships survive is if individuals from both places are willing to do this travel. We met with Khon Kaen University’s vice president of international affairs, as well as its president. Many university partnerships exist in name only, and little is actually done. Both these Khon Kaen administrators expressed gratitude for this international partnership actually being one of action.

When KKU faculty and students visited WSU last April, we signed another five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which governs the relationship. The visit by Paula and me marked the first set of activities under the new and expanded MOU with KKU. In the past, educational administration was the focus for KKU and WSU. For this trip, educational administration, as well as curriculum and instruction, were the foci for this trip. We toured their Autism Research Center and Demonstration School on campus and discussed yet other possibilities for the future.

Thailand is a developing country and one of contrasts. This is no more apparent than in Khon Kaen, the seat of commerce and government for the northeast region of Thailand. When I visited there in 2001, I saw a Mercedes Benz, a couple of elephants, and a family of four riding on a Honda 90, with none of the riders wearing a helmet. Last year, and in this visit, I saw a good deal of development, with new housing units along a lake in the downtown, and many new buildings. No elephants were seen this time, nor a Mercedes Benz. I did see several big, new SUVs (further signs of overall development) and more people wearing helmets, which is now the law. Still, there were plenty of families traveling in Khon Kaen on one small motorcycle without any protective gear. The hotel we stay at is very nice. A short walk down a street with several bars and restaurants and you’ll see a Starbucks. Visible from our 11th floor room are dwellings with people living in abject poverty.

Whatever we do as a college for KKU is warmly embraced and lauded by faculty and administrators. We really feel appreciated for the work we do and, in some small way, feel like we are making the world a better place, though I want to be careful not to overstate what we offer. In short, this is simply land-grant university work. I hope that the college will continue this partnership for years to come. Given the relationship and the accomplishments thus far, I think this partnership can be a signature international collaboration for the college.

On our trans-pacific flight there, we flew into the jet stream. I like reading the flight data that is provided for each passenger. On this flight, the head wind in mph was given, along with the ground speed and air speed. This reminded me of my high school teaching days. Many of you know that I use to be a high school mathematics teacher. When I taught algebra, I used to develop algebra problems like: “You are traveling in an airplane at X mph and facing a head wind of Y mph. You need to travel Z miles. How long will it take you to get there?” I suspect many of you might remember knocking your brains out trying to solve these problems! J Anyway, on the way back, we traveled with the jet stream at about 800 mph and at about 40,000 feet. Incredible.

KKU faculty and students will be in Pullman in April. I hope each one of you takes the opportunity to introduce yourself and visit with them. Please help make them feel welcome. Paula has a variety of activities planned so there are times to jump in and meet people. As this partnership continues to expand, Paula will be reaching out to faculty to work with KKU. Perhaps a trip to Khon Kaen will be required. Strongly consider this opportunity. While the work can be challenging and the hours long, you will not regret your involvement. I predict you will be changed by the experience.

A Season for Thanks

holiday header


As we close the year for the College of Education, I want to take stock of some of the wonderful programs, initiatives, and people within the college that make this a special place to work and a year to remember.

I hope everyone will take away from this message just how good the College of Education is as an academic unit at WSU. In fact, the COE and our faculty, staff, and students are leaders in many ways, as other university units look to the college to see how we are doing our work. That being said, here are just three things that really stand out to me:

The college leads when it comes to diversity. Under the leadership of Paula Groves Price, the college is involved in just about every aspect of diversity at WSU. Among other things, this includes:

  • Support for the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. programs and activities.
  • Development of programs for the new Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center.
  • Outreach and service to the Native American communities in the region.

We also troubleshoot when issues of racism, prejudice, and discrimination surface, as they unfortunately have in recent weeks. But I couldn’t be prouder of the way individuals in our college stepped up to clean the student’s car that had been vandalized this semester. The faculty, staff, and students that acted on this student’s behalf showed true Cougar spirit and pride and illustrated how best to counter such negativity; namely, with positive action. I will have more to say about diversity and the college’s role during the spring semester.

External Funding. Having been in this college for nearly 23 years, I know and have experienced the history of the college with respect to external funding. WSU has pressed for increased research productivity and our college has answered the call. Under the leadership of Amy Roth McDuffie, we have more than doubled the grant award dollars over previous years. With several large federal grant awards from the Department of Education, Office of Indian Education, Institute of Education Sciences, and the National Science Foundation, the College of Education is showing WSU that we are players in the research enterprise of the university and making a positive impact as the university takes on the Drive to 25 initiative. Well done!

Development. Under the leadership of Andrea Farmer, the development team has surpassed most key targets for college development and is setting records. The revenue this year already is well over the goal for the year, alumni participation is tied for second among academic units, and other colleges look to us as to how we work with our college’s advisory board. As the university moves toward its third capital campaign, COE is well positioned to make a real difference.

I could list more standouts and will do so in months to come. Before I close, I also want to speak to the tenor within the college. I think it is fair to say that overall, the attitude among people is positive, there is a spirit of good will, and we are looking forward. To be clear, there is a bump here and there. I think all would agree that with even just two people, there will be conflict from time to time. We still have work to do and can take nothing for granted when it comes to working well with one another. For me, I don’t recall a point in history for this college in which the energy has been so high. Thank you.

During this holiday season, let’s keep the COE magic alive by doing something positive or special for someone else. For me, this is the best way to give thanks for the opportunity and privilege to work in a great college at a wonderful university.

I wish everyone a joyous, restful, and safe holiday break.

And… Go Cougs!

Three Minute Thesis: A great program building momentum

The College of Education recently held the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. This was the third competition in as many years. It is clear 3MT is becoming part of the culture of our college, and of the doctoral student experience here in Pullman. Information and photos from this event can be viewed by clicking on this link

Here’s a bit of background about the event. 3MT is a doctoral-level competition that has students deliver their thesis to a panel of judges – in three minutes or less. The purpose of the program is simple: encourage its participants to learn how to effectively speak about their research to non-specialized audiences. 3MT was started in 2008 by the University of Queensland, in Australia. It is a copyrighted competition with specific branding guidelines and rules that must be followed. In 2014, our college sought approval from the University of Queensland to host our own 3MT event. They granted our request. The College of Education hosted its first competition in May 2014. Then-provost Dan Bernardo was one of the event’s judges and immediately saw the value in taking the event university wide.

As a top research institution, WSU values doctoral students gaining their own research experience. But more today than ever, learning how to communicate this research, often times in plain talk, and in a succinct manner, will be vital to gaining important stakeholder attention and helping solve our societal grand challenges. In both 2015, and this year, the competition has been sponsored by the Office of the Provost, and administered by the College of Education.

Congratulations to this year’s winners of the College of Education 3MT. The winners are:

  • First Place – Andrew Iverson; Educational Psychology
  • Second Place – Amir Gilmore; Cultural Studies and Social Thought in Education
  • People’s Choice – Abir El Shaban; Language, Literacy, and Technology

The above individuals won cash prizes. As a first place winner, Andrew Iverson will also compete at the university-level event for a sizeable travel award. He will face off against the winners of other WSU colleges.

Here are the details for the WSU 3MT, which is part of Academic Showcase:

Date: Tuesday, March 22

Time: 1:00 p.m. PDT

Location: CUB Junior Ballroom.

Please join us at the event to cheer for Andrew Iverson and the other doctoral students as they work to develop their presentation skills in three minutes!

Greetings from Khon Kaen, Thailand!

OK, so I travel just a tad. And while I usually try to blog on many of these trips, I was so busy this time around that I wasn’t able to do it until heading back to Pullman.

The College of Education has had a partnership with the Faculty of Education at Khon Kaen University (KKU), which is in Khon Kaen, Thailand. This partnership is bound by a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the two universities, signed by President Floyd in 2012.

The now-retired Dr. Forrest Parkay was the faculty member – and main driver – responsible for the partnership. Forrest started this work as a Fulbright Scholar in Khon Kaen several years ago and the partnership has existed to this day. Most of the work involves providing pedagogical support to KKU’s Ph.D. program in Educational Administration. We’re in the latter half of the current five-year agreement, and now that Forrest has retired and key administrators at KKU are soon to retire, they’re interested in firming up the next arrangement.

This trip was to discuss the MOA renewal.

When KKU requested renewal, I met with Dr. Paula Groves-Price, Associate Dean for Diversity and International Programs, to discuss whether the college should continue the partnership. She and I quickly agreed that continuing this would be in the best interest of the college.

Thailand is a developing country. Khon Kaen, as the seat of commerce and government in the northeast part of the country, is a city on the move. While we have much to offer KKU, they have much to offer in return. Any faculty member who travels to KKU for work will not return quite the same. The experience will generate new possibilities. I find that some of the most rewarding and fulfilling aspects of international work include a new perspective and fresh set of ideas.

A schedule chock full of scholarship – and fun

While at KKU, administrators asked me to provide a two-day workshop to their Ph.D. students on the topic of research and evaluation. I found students to be eager, if not hungry, for new knowledge and skills that could enhance their professional practice. Most of these students are already school principals. Thailand is in the midst of an education reform, putting school principals in an important role as instructional leaders; a role they have historically not been expected to fulfill. The workshop was geared to developing school principal capacity as instructional leaders.

Students are also learning English. There were 20 students in the workshop, all with varying degrees of English skill in writing, listening, and speaking. I provided content, and set up group activities to apply the concepts. Once in groups, a student with a good command of English would lead the discussion and work, and do this in the Thai language. This lead individual would work to ensure that all group members understood the background material and task. The class presentations and products were done in English. I have always found teaching to be, in part, an intellectual activity. I was not well prepared for the language differences I experienced in the workshop. However, I found this aspect very interesting and students made it easy for me. It was a pleasure working with them.

This is not my first trip to Khon Kaen, or KKU. I visited in November 2001 to conduct a two-week intensive workshop on developing dissertations. I teamed up with Forrest for that work, which was done before a formal arrangement was established between the two universities. On that trip, I took my family with me. My wife accompanied me on the current trip. We were able to spend time eating with people we got to know back in 2001. This was good fun and a highlight of the trip for us.

Looking forward

Our college worked with Dr. Asif Chaundry, Vice President for International Programs at WSU, to begin thinking about a renewed partnership. Paula and I also came to the conclusion that there is a good deal more the College of Education could offer to the partnership, and that the college would be better served if the partnership was managed in a similar way as is done with the Nishinomiya, Japan partnership. A key feature would be an open, transparent process for who would work with KKU at any given point of time. In addition to supporting their Educational Administration doctoral program, other key areas in which we could collaborate, and be well received by KKU faculty, would be: STEM education, diversity, curriculum and instruction, and special education. Faculty and student exchanges could also be options. I spoke with KKU officials about these ideas and they conveyed strong interest in an arrangement like this.

In the next few days I will work with Paula to further develop the MOA document, building on Forrest’s good work, with an eye toward a new arrangement that both KKU and WSU will find beneficial. I am pleased with the college’s portfolio of international work. A new MOA with KKU will be a wonderful component to this work.

Our teacher shortage is a national crisis

Washington state is experiencing a significant teacher shortage in its public schools. The shortage is across all areas of K-12 and is particularly acute at the elementary level. With a deficit of approximately 7,200 teachers, the shortage is on an order of magnitude that is difficult to comprehend. Pasco School District, for example, hired 200 teachers during the summer. This is still 51 short of what they need. I have also recently heard that Yakima School District had (and may still have) 26 positions open with no applicants for any of them. I have received written testimonials from several other school district superintendents that are equally alarming.teachers_wanted

As anyone can see, a shortage of this size won’t be easily dealt with. And Washington is not the only state with this issue. With enrollment in teacher preparation programs down 30 percent across the country, there are many states finding it difficult to fill the ranks of their teaching workforce. Thus, this is a national issue.

The Professional Education Standards Board, or PESB, is moving in earnest to address the teacher shortage, working productively with school districts, teacher preparation programs, and the legislature. They have produced a number of documents that describe the problem, describe factors that have likely contributed to the decline in the number of teachers, and give strategies to address the shortage (See

While there are several factors that contributed to the decline, key for Washington was the downturn in the economy from 2008-2012, which froze the job market for teachers. Though significant retirements were predicted during this time, teachers chose to stay. Teacher preparation programs quickly found that their graduates couldn’t find jobs. In response, the legislature encouraged teacher preparation programs to reduce student slots. Those retirements that were predicted earlier are now occurring in very large numbers, surpassing even what was previously predicted. Coupled with the mandate to reduce class size, and the state is in a real bind. Rural and remote school districts are being disproportionately affected. And in this mix, throughout the state and country, is the very real shortage of teachers who are culturally and linguistically diverse.

Teacher preparation programs in the state have done a good deal of work over many years to increase standards and be selective. This was done based on calls made by reform-minded individuals and organizations, both inside and outside the teaching profession. As a result, the state is clearly providing better prepared teachers into the workforce. And as PESB mentioned in one of their documents, what we don’t want to do as a state is relax these standards as a policy mechanism to try and obtain more teachers. In a 2009 study of class sizes in California, published in the Journal of Human Resources, the authors found that the positive achievement benefits that accrue for smaller class sizes were diminished by allowing emergency credentialed teachers into the classroom who had not obtained regular credential coursework and student teaching experiences. This effect was even more pronounced for disadvantaged schools.

I suspect the college will be engaged with this challenge for a good while. So, where do we go from here? In an email I previously sent to the college, I mentioned some ways WSU is working to address this issue. One thing that is clear to me is that the teacher shortage is not just a production issue. This is also a career issue. While increasing pay and incentives to attract people to be teachers will be necessary, the country will also need to find a way to articulate teaching as a solid career choice. I don’t have data to substantiate this claim, but my own experience and intuition suggests that the reform efforts experienced by K-12 for more than 30 years, and the seemingly relentless chorus of criticisms of the teaching workforce that accompany these reform efforts, have also discouraged many young people from considering teaching as a viable career choice.

K-12 education is the largest item in almost all state budgets; thus, it receives considerable attention and rightly so. Washington state must continue to look for ways to better prepare teachers to productively work in a demanding profession. Our young people and local communities deserve and expect a quality education for all students. The economy depends on it. We must also re-ignite interest in a wonderful career; a career that has arguably been the backbone of our democracy and an essential component in the development of a prosperous, well-informed, and civil society. The stakes are high.

Ours is a college on the move

Mike Trevisan
Mike Trevisan

I am pleased and honored to be the interim dean for the Washington State University College of Education. After 19 years with the college, I know how both it and WSU work. I am fairly good at putting compelling arguments together, so you can expect that I will go to great lengths to advocate for the College of Education.

Based on feedback from my colleagues both inside and outside the college, here are the priorities I see for the spring term:

  • Our vision of “one college, four campuses.” I will regularly visit Spokane, Tri-Cities and Vancouver and, when I am home in Pullman, will stay in touch with faculty around the state.
  • Our slant towards R-1, the top tier of research universities. Our researchers collaborate with each other, with faculty in other WSU colleges, and with colleagues throughout the United States and beyond.
  • Teacher preparation. This is, and will remain, a core mission.
  • Educational leadership. One of our college’s greatest contributions to the state is preparation of principals, superintendents and other leaders through our certifications and Doctor of Education programs.
  • Development. Fund-raising is high on the list of the dean’s responsibilities, especially given the drop in state funding. I enjoy meeting with donors to explain our programs, contributions and needs.
  • Employee searches. We’re hiring a dozen new faculty and administrators this year.

I want to thank former Dean (now Distinguished Professor) A.G. Rud for his leadership, particularly with respect to the idea of “one college, four campuses.” His attention to all campuses has raised expectations for the College of Education. In addition, A.G. set the college on course to R-1 work. I continue to hear from faculty members that they appreciate this focus, as I did in my previous role as associate dean for research.

Ours is a college on the move. There is much work to be done. I know I’ll be working long hours, traveling a good deal, and getting lots of e-mail. (If you write, be patient! I will get back to you, though maybe not as quickly as in the past.) With an able leadership team and the top-notch support of Stacy Mohondro, assistant to the dean, I am optimistic that the college will do well in 2013.