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College of Education Statements Revisited

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 17 - January 18, 1996

(Editor's note: The following commentary, scheduled to be published on December 8. was inadvertently omitted from that issue of Spectrum. We apologize for the omission.)

In Netta Smith's November 30 Spectrum article titled Torgersen answers staff questions, President Torgersen is quoted several times responding to questions about the removal of college status from the College of Education. Assuming the president was quoted accurately, we believe he has been misinformed on several issues. It is important to Education faculty and staff members and students that the university community have accurate information about the college, its current status and its restructuring effort. Accordingly, we offer clarification on the issues addressed by President Torgersen in the meeting.

1. The president stated that, at the time a 20-percent budget reduction was imposed, in January 1994, the college was asked to "give serious consideration to being assimilated into another college." Provost Fred Carlisle's Jan. 31, 1994, memorandum actually stated that a new college plan should be guided by several objectives, one of which was "closer collaborations with faculty and programs in other colleges with common interests-including serious consideration of program and department mergers and mergers into other colleges." With regard to the appropriateness of an administrative mandate to merge, however, subsequent to the January 1994 memorandum, in a letter dated Feb. 18, 1994, to all Virginia public school superintendents, the president stated: "The particulars of the reorganization of the College of Education will be worked out within the college itself, not mandated by the university administration."

In the Spectrum article, the president is quoted as stating that "there was `another letter about a year ago raising this question (assimilation), but the college did not adequately address the proposal.'" We believe the second letter, to which Torgersen refers, is a memorandum dated Oct. 17, 1994, from then-Provost Carlisle to Dean Wayne Worner and then-Dean of Human Resources Peggy Meszaros. In this memorandum Carlisle states: "With President Torgersen's endorsement, I would like to appoint a joint committee of faculty from the two colleges to begin serious discussions about further collaboration. I have no specific outcome in mind, but I do expect serious discussion. You may remember that I did not prescribe the details of the Education restructuring plan. Those have been left to the dean and the faculty."

The joint committee of faculty members was constituted by Carlisle. It deliberated, and made recommendations on June 30, 1995, to new Provost Meszaros, who had succeeded Carlisle. In a letter to Worner, Meszaros describes the final report of the committee: "I believe they have done a very good job and now our work is before us.... The recommendations are clearly in keeping with our restructuring emphasis and offer new ways to think about our future." The joint committee of faculty members from the two colleges had concluded: "The committee recognizes the uniqueness of the two colleges, but also the cooperation and collaboration currently under way and the opportunities for additional collaborative efforts. We offer the following recommendations and believe that if fully implemented these two colleges will be well positioned to be a significant part of the model land-grant university of the 21st century."

We are not aware that either of the colleges was told to merge. There was no proposal to "adequately address," but rather, a charge to explore ways of working together. Faculty members from both colleges did what they were asked and the outcome was endorsed by Meszaros.

2. In the Spectrum article, Torgersen is quoted as referring to the Department of Higher Education Administration and Policy. A program in higher education administration was eliminated as part of the college's 20-percent downsizing. The correct name of the department is Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.

3. In the article, the Department of Teaching and Learning is characterized by Torgersen as "largely undergraduate" and the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, as "largely Ed.D." In fact, fall enrollment in the Department of Teaching and Learning is one-half undergraduate (684, including 357 students enrolled in other colleges who are seeking teaching certification) and one-half graduate students (653). Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, which is exclusively graduate, enrolled 561 students, fewer graduate students than Teaching and Learning.

4. Torgersen stated that "a considerable amount of money" would be saved by the closing of the Dean's Office. We are not aware of any formal study of this issue, however, in 1994-95, all college administrators were involved in teaching, advising, and doctoral committee work. The average WSCH for these individuals was the same as the university average for regular faculty members.

5. Torgersen is quoted as saying it "seemed this faculty operated separate from the rest of the university." All of our teacher-education programs (30 percent of our effort) are intercollegiate. The elementary-education programs have been jointly conducted by the College of Home Economics/Human Resources and the College of Education for more than 20 years. We have had jointly appointed faculty members with the College of Arts and Sciences for 25 years in secondary-education programs. Our graduate programs are the only programs on this campus that routinely require substantial cognate work taken out of the college and for members of doctoral committees to be chosen from other colleges.

We recently entered into agreements with the College of Veterinary Medicine to share facilities and equipment and are sharing an appointment of a faculty member in the College of Engineering. Faculty members have delivered workshops on college teaching to Engineering students and a course on college teaching heavily enrolls graduate students from across campus, especially from the College of Engineering. These only sample the collaborative efforts of the College of Education's faculty.

We hope these clarifications are helpful to the Staff Senate and the larger university community in understanding the College of Education's current status, its programs and its recent restructuring effort.

Mary Whitlock

College of Education

Classified Staff President

Pat Bryant

College of Education

Classified Staff President-Elect