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    Planning Notes (4-30-07)

    Notes taken by J. Kulikowich at the "Planning to Plan" meeting held on April 30, 2007.

    On April 30, 2007, faculty, staff, and students of theCollegeofEducationmet with DeanDavid Monkto discuss goals and initiatives for the College’s next strategic plan. The committee met for approximately 90 minutes. Dean Monk initiated the active conversation by asking all of those who attended to consider two objectives: a) What processes are needed to gather the information to document a new strategic plan?; and b) What are the priorities of our College?


    Of the two questions posed by Dean Monk to his colleagues, question two received considerably more answers than question one. Priorities spanned the gamut from: a) absolute needs and goals of the College; b) special topics in special times of which a College of Education should identify important questions to address and then work to solve these problems; and, c) cutting edge and visionary pursuits – what could make our College and University stand apart from other Colleges and Universities that are attempting to solve problems in an effort to help learners and their teachers worldwide?


    A goal that represents the category of absolute need is one which must be met because it is vital to the College’s functioning and reputation as a leading school in teaching, scholarship, and service. One example of an absolute need is to ensure the College has adequate resources to meet the demands of changing policies regarding the preparation of teachers. Legislation inPennsylvaniahas been approved to require that all teachers enter the profession with 12 additional course credits, 9 in special education and 3 in English as a second language. While it is most important to ensure that teachers are trained professionally in order to provide the highest quality of instruction to learners with special needs or whose native language is not English, attaining this goal presents a difficult undertaking for aCollegeofEducation. For example, more instructors are needed both to teach the courses as well to observe preservice teachers in classroom settings in efforts to provide comprehensive evaluations of teachers’ subject-matter and pedagogical knowledge.


    Goals that related to special topics at special times often emerge as a result of problems confronting communities which might be considered atypical or that do not occur regularly yet impact society in major ways. Unfortunately, the world is obviously a place where many adverse or tragic events occur. For example, safety on college campuses becomes an important goal to make our very best efforts to prevent violence such as that which many university members experienced on the campus of Virginia Tech. Not only does an event such as that which occurred at Virginia Tech relate to issues of safety and security, but also, communities must heal. The healing process could take many years, but aCollegeofEducationcould assist with its expertise in counseling psychology and school counseling to establish support systems. Another problem that can be viewed as one presenting special topics at special times is that related to the services that should be provided to veterans returning fromIraqwho may be suffering from physical injury as well as emotional trauma and distress. Rehabilitation counseling specialists may assist in important ways to help veterans re-establish high quality of living away from the tragic experiences of war.


    Finally, cutting edge and visionary pursuit goals pertain to directives related to pursuit of academic excellence and comprehensive wellness for all members of a global society in the future. It is clear that there a real-world problems which threaten the wellness of our national and global community. Global warming continues to be a topic which leads to extensive discussion on questions related to environmental protection and survival of the planet. Health issues continue to emerge related to individuals representing all chronological stages of the lifespan. Cures for diseases like AIDS and cancer remain elusive. Finally, scientific endeavors depend significantly on economies that can grow to provide ample resources for discovery and progress. Not a single goal related to any of these global agenda can be realized without members who are literate in mathematics and science. As a leadingCollegeofEducation, therefore,PennStatecan take a visionary perspective as to what mathematical and scientific literacy will look like in the future to solve the problems affecting the lives of individuals worldwide. Technological advances will be keys to defining mathematical and scientific literacy as more learners may be as likely to communicate with electronic or virtual media as they are traditional, paper-and-pencil means. Whatever the means or the medium, learners must be able to grapple with the exponential wealth of information available to them. They must be able to discern critically important from unimportant information and be able to organize important information so that it can be used effectively and efficiently to solve problems.


    During the dialogue on April 30, it became clear that the goals of the Strategic Planning document prepared for 2004-2005 through 2007-2008 are as important today as they were in February of 2005 when the document was drafted. The goals presented in that document were:


    • The pursuit of excellence in teaching and advising for our students
    • The conduct and utilization of rigorous research to improve professional practice
    • The creation of a welcoming and supportive professional climate that fosters diversity
    • The development of effective partnerships across disciplines as well as organizational units, both within and outside ofPennState
    • The bold use and evaluation of electronic technologies to enhance the quality of educational experiences


    All five of these goals are essential in a systemic and strategic agenda that can direct the College’s planning around absolute needs, special topics and special times, and cutting edge and visionary pursuits. Of course, the ideas presented here in no way comprise a comprehensive list that represents all of the important endeavors in which we can participate as members of the educational community. Therefore, it is important to generate as many ideas as possible. We seek your input. In your program or department meetings, we encourage you to brainstorm all the various possibilities that could fit within the three broad categories of absolute needs, special topics and special times, and cutting edge and visionary pursuits. Collection of this information we hope will serve two important purposes. First, it will allow you to share ideas that were not expressed at the meeting on April 30, but, second, it is as likely to reveal common themes and ways in which members representing various programs and departments may work together to establish the next teaching, research, and service agenda for our College.