WMU News

College of Education reorganized

March 20, 1998

KALAMAZOO -- After nearly two years of planning and input, Western Michigan University's College of Education has announced a major structural reorganization that will enhance the preparation of teachers and administrators and better meet the needs of the changing K-12 environment.

The reorganization, approved by the WMU Board of Trustees at its March 20 meeting, will integrate teacher education programs with those designed for school administrators. The changes will take effect immediately.

"We want to improve the overall quality of our programs, services and graduates," says Dr. Frank Rapley dean of the College of Education. "The pace of change is very rapid in the K-12 school system, and the college needs to position itself in a way that we can respond to those changes.

"There are many forces out there not controlled by the schools that are bringing about changes in K-12 education -- new legislation, more students from single parent families, more poverty and increasing demands for improved performance by students," he continues. "All of those things are impinging on the schools and the college needs to be more flexible and responsive to these needs."

Under the reorganization, the number of departments within the College of Education will be reduced from six to five. The Department of Educational Leadership, which primarily has trained future administrators, will be merged under two existing departments, Special Education and Education and Professional Development. Each of these departments will be adjusted and renamed to reflect the change.

The Department of Education and Professional Development, which oversees teacher preparation, will assume the administrator preparation aspects of the Department of Educational Leadership. This new unit will tentatively be titled the Department of Leadership and Learning.

Additionally, the elements of research, evaluation and measurement from the Department of Educational Leadership will be combined with the Department of Special Education along with the socio-cultural foundations and technology aspects found in the Department of Education and Professional

Development. This new unit will be tentatively titled the Department of Special Education, Research, Foundations and Technology.

The new department also will be responsible for providing a common core of courses for graduate students in the areas of foundations and research.

The Department of Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology will see minimal changes in faculty assignments, while the college's two remaining departments, Health, Physical Education and Recreation and Family and Consumer Sciences, will not be affected.

"This is simply a structural change and out of that will grow changes in curriculum and programs," Rapley explains. "This recognizes that teachers and administrators need to be prepared together, that they share some of the responsibilities for leadership in the schools and that administrators come from the ranks of teachers."

The reorganization process began when Rapley became dean of the college in 1996. Recommendations for changes emerged from the collaborative work of 80 faculty, staff and administrators.

Divided into five individual committees, the groups took on key issues facing the college including mission, graduate core, culture, balancing quality and resources, and structure. Throughout the process, multiple opportunities were afforded to faculty and staff within the college to provide input.

Rapley says the reorganization will not result in the loss of any jobs. However, approximately 20 faculty members and eight staff members will be reassigned under changes in departmental structures.

Students will not be immediately affected by the reorganization. Changes for students will come in the future as administrators and faculty consider individual program and curriculum needs based upon the new structure, which Rapley says promotes teamwork and collaboration among the various departments.

"This new structure will allow the planning to take place and it establishes the ability to be flexible," he explains. "Program and curriculum changes won't happen at once. They will only come through the usual curriculum process."

Also under the reorganization, the college's Merze Tate Center for Research and Information Processing will become the Merze Tate Center for Research on School Reform. Under its new mission, the center will provide support to education faculty, staff and students engaged in research efforts addressing various elements of school reform. The center also will take on a more active role in initiating grants and research projects within the public schools.

Media contact: Julie Paavola; julie.paavola@wmich.edu

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