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National Ranking Remains a Priority, Education Dean Says at State of the College Address

Dean Linda Irwin-DeVitis gave an overview of accomplishments within the Darden College of Education over the past year and announced some upcoming initiatives at her State of the College address Aug. 24.

She told the new and returning faculty members that the college will continue in its quest to become ranked among the top 50 education schools in the country. "We want to move toward a reputation of excellence in serving our metropolitan area," she said, noting that the college plans to address national issues by focusing on them in a local context.

The college generated more than $5.5 million in external funding in 2010-11, Irwin-DeVitis said, adding that it ranks ninth nationally in funding awards from the U.S. Department of Education.

Over the past three years, the college experienced a 7 percent increase in undergraduate FTE enrollment, and a 5 percent climb in graduate FTE enrollment, she said. The college placed almost 2,000 students in field experiences and nearly 400 teacher candidates in student teaching placements last year, she announced.

The dean noted that at least six of the college's faculty members edit major journals and more than 20 sit on prestigious review boards.

Recognizing faculty for their "best practices" publications, she added, "The many books, book chapters, refereed articles, reviews, technical reports and other publications have made significant impact on practice in all of our disciplines."

Irwin-DeVitis noted that the counseling department won the 2011 Professional Identity Award from the National Board of Certified Counselors for its preparation of school, mental health and college counselors.

The dean also recognized the contributions of students in the college who, through Darden internships, practica and volunteerism, provided 279,500 hours of service to area schools, agencies and wellness facilities during the past academic year. "According to federal guidelines, that translates into $6,157,385 that Darden students have contributed to Hampton Roads and Virginia," she said.

Among the college's new initiatives this year is a collaborative effort - involving faculty and staff from both the College of Arts and Letters and the Office of Computing and Communications Services - to create a GIS mapping tool that can be used in education reform, as well as other education disciplines.

The initial focus will be looking at the connections between high- and low-poverty schools in Hampton Roads to draw correlations regarding test scores. "It's not a surprise that test scores do correlate with the amount of poverty in schools, but one of the things we can do with that research is identify whether schools that have more resources, even though their children are in poverty, in fact perform better," the dean said.

With the input of its advisory board, faculty and students, the college is looking forward to creating an action plan this academic year, which will use information gathered from a faculty survey, the education summit the college sponsored last fall, meetings with faculty members and external stakeholders, literature reviews and visits to other campuses.

The next step in this process will take place on Thursday, Sept. 15, when the college hosts a daylong stakeholders conference.

"We are now bringing back all of this contextual and historical information to a major stakeholders conference, which will provide us with a strategic focus," Irwin-DeVitis said.

The conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 15 in the Big Blue Room at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. For more information call 3-3938.

This article was posted on: August 25, 2011

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