The summer is moving quickly; and before we know it, it will be back to school time again. I have been traveling a lot this summer for work and pleasure. Mary and I went to China to visit Fujian Normal University and Zhangzhou Normal University as well as to meet with representatives from Hangzhou Normal University. We were able to navigate with support from Ping Gao, who escorted us around Beijing, and Mingshui Chai, who met us at Fujian Normal University. We discussed various partnerships and opportunities for international exchanges between students and faculty. There are several ideas that focus on Chinese students attending UNI and completing part of their degrees here in a dual degree arrangement. In order to make these ideas actionable, we must meet with the Provost and the Office of International Programs to enter into formal agreements. We are cautious not to over promise and under deliver.
Another travel event this summer was to attend the Reading Recovery Council of North America (RRCNA) Board of Directors meeting in Bethesda, Maryland. Salli Forbes completed her reign as the president of the RRCNA board. During her term in office she orchestrated the beginning of a national strategic plan that will focus on amplifying the strengths of Reading Recovery and its companion program, Partnership in Comprehensive Literacy (PCL). We are investing in the PCL model preparation of several professors in our literacy program so they can use these techniques in their undergraduate and graduate courses. Salli brought this idea to the literacy team last year, and we set aside funding for this to become actionable professional development.
Personally, for my vacation I went to Toronto, Canada, to attend the annual Pride Festival. Toronto is truly an international city. It was difficult to determine if there was a majority culture. I enjoyed seeing groups of Indians (people from India), white Canadians as well as people of African, Arabic, Asian and Latino descent walking, talking, laughing, eating and interacting together. I wish all of our students could have spent time in this city to truly understand what we mean by multiculturalism. When I arrived as dean, I asked our leadership team to be passport ready because we never know what opportunities might arise. This year we sent Leigh Martin, Terri Lasswell and Nick Pace to England; a contingency of students and faculty to South Africa; Vickie Robinson’s human relations students to Tanzania; and Kevin Finn’s Fulbright to Hungary. We want to provide more international travel opportunities for students as well as faculty. If you have an idea, please let me know so that we can determine if we can make it actionable.
With these action items, we want to make sure they are strategically aligned, curriculum-embedded or scholarly productive. I look forward to hearing from you about your ideas as we embark on another year of effective preparation of pre-professionals.
Dr. Dwight C. Watson, Dean College of Education University of Northern Iowa