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Dr. Mike Trevisan

Dean's Perspectives

A Season for Thanks

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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!

Pointing ship in the right direction

As the year comes to a close and I look to the next, a number of thoughts come to mind. I think it is a fair to say that this year was one of “pointing the ship in the right direction.” To this end, the college worked to successfully close a budget gap, make a number of staff changes, and re-organize various units. An energetic and productive new cohort of faculty members were hired, and those hired in Pullman have quickly changed the tenor in Cleveland Hall. In addition, a variety of small, but important, revisions to various protocols have been put into place so that we remain one college across four campuses and honor each campus’s need for flexibility.

One of the things that struck me most during this last year is how people pulled together to move the college forward. Staff, faculty, administrators, and even graduate students, worked to make this a better place. Good will and a can-do spirit is evident. The college is thinking less about constraints and more about possibilities. This is a fun place to be a dean!

Another key factor in the college’s success this last year is the leadership team. This is a group of bright people, thoughtful and strong in their thinking. I depend on their feedback and wise counsel for all key decisions. Ultimately, there are some decisions which are mine, and mine alone. I make better decisions when I have the solid counsel of the leadership team.

Communication and marketing the college, its accomplishments, and its initiatives, has been a strong priority this year. In August we hired Brandon Chapman, who in a very short period of time has changed how communication is done on behalf of the college and in many ways, has begun to re-brand the College of Education on the WSU campus. Brandon is highly skilled with social media, web delivery, and a strong writer. He is savvy about communication and marketing and the college is fortunate to have him on staff.

I mentioned in a previous column about the importance and strength of our new development team. So I won’t go repeat detail, but think it worth noting that under the leadership of Andrea Farmer, the development director, development has a new face and energy that is poised to break development records. I couldn’t be more pleased with their near-term success.

Next year will bring a number of challenges and opportunities. I think we can expect this mix from here on out. To be sure, a key challenge will be how best to deploy limited resources effectively. The college will see the beginning of a host of new initiatives that are being driven by faculty and staff willing to take risks, invest time and energy, and step up to meet new expectations. Discussion of these however, can wait until next year!

It is time now to enjoy the holiday.

Happy Holidays to everyone and here’s to a great 2014.

– Mike

Many reasons to be thankful

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, it is a time of reflection for me as I think about the many good people and initiatives in the College of Education. I want to take a few moments here to identify some of the things that I am thankful for as the dean of the college. I wish I had space to identify all individuals, programs, and initiatives. The following will, however, provide a few specifics about our college that make this place special, and for me, proud to serve as dean.Oak Leaf book 2

I think the thing I am thankful for, first and foremost, is the people in the college, both faculty and staff. We have people who have just started in the college, and those who have worked here for more than 30 years. Some have worked here and left for a bit and then returned. Regardless of the job classification, the general tenor among employees is upbeat and they approach their work with a can-do attitude. As a consequence, I think we can accomplish anything we set our minds to.

I want to make special mention regarding our staff. These professionals provide the support faculty and administrators need to do their work. Our college could not succeed without these individuals. These unsung employees work hard to meet increasingly higher expectations on a campus that is moving fast. I want to thank each and every staff member on all four campuses, for the work they do to make the college a great place to work, study, and build a career.

The legacy of the college is the educational leadership program. The college trains the majority of the superintendents in Washington. Thus, I am thankful for a top-notch educational leadership program. The academic faculty, and the faculty that have left the K-12 administrative ranks to enter higher education, are the heart and soul of the program. Their tireless efforts in providing the best possible experience for students studying to become administrators keeps WSU and the college in the forefront of K-12 work in the state.

I am also thankful for our development team. In fact, I think it is fair to say that we have a “cracker jack” development team. These folks are continually on the road making contact with potential donors. They are continually working to maintain links to previous donors. And they’re constantly strategizing on ways to position the college to receive the kind of development support we need to be successful now and in the years to come. As a relatively new team with an upwardly revised expectation for growth, they are on target to meet their revenue goal for the first year. Well done and keep up the great work.

I think a program we will begin to hear a good deal about in the coming years is kinesiology. With a key faculty hire this last year, a search for another faculty member under way this year, support from President Floyd, and plans to develop a master’s program, kinesiology is positioning itself to become a solid choice for many students interested in this field. In short, I am thankful for a program that has momentum and is working to reach higher.

I think the above provides a bit of what I am thankful for in the college, why I enjoy working in the college, and why I am positive about the college’s future. In the coming weeks and months I will highlight other programs, people, and initiatives that make this a wonderful college. In the meantime, I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and trust that this holiday will be a special one for you and yours.