I have never liked business travel. Being away from home, family, and the normal routine has always been hard on me. However, I am unafraid to travel. In fact, when I started at WSU in 1994, I quickly concluded that to “be in the game,” travel out of Pullman would be required. I have kept to that thinking ever since.
As many of you know, late September and all of October has been intense travel time for me. I have been to Washington DC, Madrid, twice to Denver, as well as a handful of times to Seattle, all for work-related activities.
Given email access in hotels and in recent years, airplanes, coupled with cell phone communication, I remain well connected with the college, even while on the road. You wouldn’t know that I am writing this blog at 35,000 feet unless I told you.
My strong preference is to be at home, but I do look for positives while traveling. The flight early this morning provided a clear view of Mt. Rainier. In the light of dawn, it looked surreal. I felt I could reach out and touch it. Its beauty and majesty gives me pause. When I was in Madrid it was 82–85 degrees Fahrenheit the entire week. Shorts and-flip flops was the evening dress, and as you know, my favorite way to go. In addition, this trip I am traveling with Amy Cox, Brandon Chapman, and Cathy Claussen as we work to raise money for the Sport Management program’s new Title IX and gender equity professorship. Familiar faces help. And given that this trip is for development, I am guaranteed to meet some interesting people, a key reason why I have come to enjoy development work.
As a land-grant university, there are significant expectations for faculty, staff, and administrators to partner, collaborate, and be present to a significant number of stakeholders. Any faculty member with an active research program is traveling. Most academic directors, department chairs, and administrators on up the administrative chain, are traveling. Thus, travel is part of the WSU experience.
I will return late Sunday night. I have one more trip during early December and then I will be down for several weeks. During that time I promise to roam the halls a bit to say hi and see how you are doing. For, despite being well connected to the college while traveling, nothing beats face-to-face interaction.
The college’s legacy is education and training of school administrators.
While there are many top notch and influential programs in the College of Education, the K-12 Educational Leadership program stands out as the college’s legacy, particularly superintendent training. For decades, the program has reached every corner of the state, and most, if not all, school districts. It has done this as graduates of the Educational Leadership program take on administrative roles in these districts. In addition, many of our graduates have filled important administrative, policy, and political positions throughout the state.
The current Superintendent of Public Instruction, Randy Dorn, is one of our graduates. In short, the Educational Leadership program has – and continues to be – a program that influences policy and practice. As a consequence, many know the College of Education through one of the Educational Leadership degrees or certification offerings.
Each year students graduate with school principal or superintendent certificates or fulfill requirements for the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, and eventually find their way into principal, superintendent or other educational leadership positions in Washington State. While competition for these students is fierce, the College of Education continues to train many of the principals and superintendents in the state. And the reason is clear: The practical and theoretical aspects of the program are second to none. Students make a conscious choice to enroll in the college’s programs even though competing programs in the state might have a shorter time requirement, work commitment, and/or cost less. Students see the college’s programs as gateways to a professional career as a K-12 administrator, particularly in Washington State, because of the high quality preparation provided.
In May, a total of 31 principal certificates and 19 superintendent certificates were earned across the WSU Spokane, Vancouver, and Tri-Cities campuses. I am pleased with these individuals for their commitment to K-12 education and their willingness to fulfill leadership roles. I am honored that they chose WSU for their education and training. Further, I am proud of the Educational Leadership faculty who work tirelessly to provide the best educational experience possible for students, as well as the students and faculty who produce scholarship that positively impacts our state’s K-12 students, schools, and school districts.
The Educational Leadership program plays a vital role in developing community relations and connections. Our program faculty engage in outreach, research, and teaching that link our college to communities throughout the state. For example, faculty in the program maintain connections with local schools through teacher professional development and leadership preparation. The college also has links through research. We have grants and programs related to fuller integration of STEM education in local school settings.
The statewide doctoral program (Ed.D.) generates practitioner-oriented research to meet the needs of school districts and college and universities. Links between theory and practice are central to the research of faculty and graduate students. Faculty work hard to generate research that is relevant, timely, and applicable to meet the needs of the most pressing problems facing educational leaders throughout the state, region, and country. These faculty have nationally recognized research in the areas of leadership for social justice, transformative leadership, STEM education, and building reflective practitioners.
A prominent feature of the program is faculty with unprecedented practical experience grounded in meeting the needs of schools in Washington. Gay Selby and Teena MacDonald for example, are veteran educators and administrators in Washington. Along with an experienced cadre of adjunct faculty, students receive tools tested in the real world of schools, making our graduates highly sought after by schools and districts.
The college is vested in maintaining a premier Educational Leadership program. The aforementioned faculty are tangible evidence of this. In addition, the college will continue to look for strategic partnerships; obtain local, state, and national roles that will allow influence; garner resources to properly support the Educational Leadership program; and work to maintain visibility and prominence in Washington State as the college continues its legacy of producing educational leaders.