This newsletter marks my last as EDL Chair. I turn this Chair’s chair over to Tom Poetter at the end of June and return to my duties as a faculty member: teaching, advising students, conducting research, and contributing through service.
The chair’s role, not unlike that of a P-12 principal’s job, is middle-management in so many ways; and in that sense, you deal with everything coming down from the top of the organizational structure and everything bubbling up from the bottom, too. It is a unique position during a time of great flux and pressure in P-16 educational organizations. Responding to change requires adaptation, learning, growth, and sometimes, resistance. Our department has deliberated often about how we should be responding to difficult policy environments (high stakes accountability in P-12 or the pressure for revenue pursuit in higher education). Our faculty and students in classrooms are engaged in rich classroom discussions to build complex, ethical solutions to the myriad challenges in schools or colleges. And at times, we consider – as practitioners or as researchers – questions of resistance, and whether sometimes we are being asked as educators to work against the best interests of our students. In an environment of constant change and pressure, these questions have driven many conversations in EDL and will continue to do so. Luckily, our culture of dialogue around things that matter has not altered in the 23 years I’ve been part of EDL, despite all the other changes we deal with now.
Attempting to provide leadership during such a time is, I think, one of the biggest intellectual challenges I have had to date as an educator. To say that I have learned a lot in this job would be a terrible understatement. I have enjoyed trying to problem-solve around these difficult conflicts and dilemmas. I have relished opportunities to build curriculum that is meaningful to our students which can impact the educational environments in which they will work. I have found joy in opportunities to help students get the resources they need to pursue their educational goals. I am most grateful for getting to work with such talented colleagues. Our staff members are absolutely stellar, and our faculty create magic in classrooms with students. In fact, many days I consider my most important job that of helping take the “stuff and nonsense” of administrative or bureaucratic tasks off the desks of my faculty so they can do their most important work: teaching, advising, research, and service. Two of these faculty colleagues will be the featured speakers at our 2018 EDL Reunion on June 9th here on the Oxford campus. Details inside the newsletter – please save the date and I hope to see many of you as we honor Dr. Molly Moorhead, an EDL alum and current Clinical Professor of School Leadership, and Dr. Judy Rogers, Professor Emeritus of Educational Leadership and the Student Affairs and Higher Education graduate programs.
I hope to see many of you as we honor Molly and Judy in June! I look forward to catching up with you then.