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Education's Worner announces his retirement

By Sandy Broughton

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 01 - August 24, 1995

A standing ovation and sustained applause punctuated the College of Education's fall meeting Friday, as faculty and staff members and students paid tribute to the man who led them through a difficult restructuring. Wayne Worner, who was named interim dean of the college shortly after the university mandated a 20-percent budget reduction in February 1994, announced his intention to retire next summer.

"It is a task he would not have asked for, but he stepped up to the plate and set an example for the entire university of how a college can be served lemons and make lemonade," Provost Peggy Meszaros told the group. "The College of Education restructuring would not have been as successful if not for Wayne's assertive and aggressive leadership, his vision, and his ability to inspire and work with the talents of the college."

"I begged him to stay," Meszaros said, referring to an August 16 conversation with Worner during which she offered him an extension of his term as interim dean. "We worked together as deans through lots of challenges, and I have the utmost admiration for him."

She says the administration has begun the process for state approval to fill the position of dean of the College of Education. A search is likely to begin within two months.

Worner will continue in the position of interim dean through July, 1996, or until a new dean is appointed.

Worner told the group that the imperative task of his appointment--to produce a restructuring plan acceptable to the university and within the budget parameters established--has been accomplished. "We have done that," he said. "The college is alive, on the road, and headed in the right direction. The survival issue is behind us. The new college lies ahead. It is time to find someone else who can give this process the full energy it deserves."

The announcement of Worner's impending retirement comes at the half-way point of a major restructuring and redesign effort within the college.

The Board of Visitors unanimously approved the restructuring plan at their meeting last fall. Since then, the college has moved swiftly to implement the plan, eliminating or transferring five programs, reducing administrative personnel and consolidating four divisions into two interim departments, reducing full-time tenure-track appointments by 40 percent and staff appointments by 20 percent, and sharpening the college's focus on K-12 public schools.

"It would be my observation that the college has never been in a better position to recruit a leader," Worner said. "There is very specific language about who we are and what we believe and understanding as to the contrary positions. In short, there are not many secrets about who we are and the range of our beliefs." Worner said he hopes the college will continue to "move forward steadily, keeping options open, putting in place what we can agree on, and then, on schedule, recruiting someone whose views are consistent with ours."

Praising Worner's leadership and the entire college for what she called a "metamorphosis" during the past 18 months, Meszaros said, "You have the respect of your peers, and we will continue to work with you so that the college remains viable and becomes even more of a national and international success."

Worner, a professor of education administration, has been a member of the College of Education since its founding in 1971. During that time he has served as director of the division of Administrative and Educational Services, director of the division of Curriculum and Instruction, special assistant to the dean, acting dean, and interim dean.