In the scheme of the Curry School’s 108-year history, a decade is a drop in the bucket. Yet, in many ways, the higher education landscape has changed dramatically since 2003. The Curry School has had to respond to these changes not only to remain relevant but to stay on the cutting edge of the disciplines we encompass.
Here, at the beginning of another new year, we stop and look back over a ten-year span, taking inventory of how far we’ve come.
Seven long-time faculty members share their perspectives, along with a current doctoral student who was here working on her masters in teaching degree a decade ago.
Bob Pianta then summarizes how Curry has positioned itself for the current higher ed climate and the direction in which the school is headed for the remainder of his term as dean.
“The modern feel of the new Bavaro Hall is consistent with the modern teaching practices of the faculty. As during my first time at Curry, I continue to be impressed by the positive and encouraging faculty at Curry and their commitment to providing an education that prepares students to be successful in their endeavors after graduation.
“However, there are differences in the way the faculty is delivering instruction. The main difference I notice in instruction is related to the way the professors are adapting to the technology that has developed over the past decade. For example, I see alternative formats of instruction, such as meeting for online class session or the use of online discussion board forums to encourage and facilitate conversations about instruction beyond the regular class meetings. Professors are also employing web conferencing tools to organize real time conversations with education experts across the country. “
Randall Robey, Assoc. Professor
“Obviously, the most visible change in Curry over the past decade is Bavaro Hall. It is beautiful and wonderfully facilitates our individual and collective work. It’s exciting to imagine a new Ruffner in 18 months.
“But the most important and impressive change over the past decade is our students. True, Wahoos always have been, and will always be, extraordinarily bright, motivated, engaged, and delightful. But the arrival of Gen-Y students in force has caused me to rethink teaching, learning, education broadly considered, communication, and leadership—and their response has been immensely rewarding. In many ways, working with our students has never been more exciting and fun.”
Ronald Reeve, Professor
Clinical and School Psychology
“I work primarily with PhD students. The past decade or so has seen an intentional, Curry-wide shift to a mentor model of training for this group. That has broadened and deepened the relationship between doctoral students and their advisors and has resulted in ever higher quality students choosing to come to Curry. Once here, their preparation for academic, clinical, and research careers clearly has been enhanced.”
Pamela Tucker, Professor
Administration and Supervision
“Faculty members at Curry have always espoused and demonstrated a commitment to individual students in their classes and as advisees, but I think the perspective has expanded over the last fifteen years from those individual relationships to an awareness of the broader array of interactions and activities that constitute being a Curry student.”
“We are looking at program- and school-level experiences that knit together a community of students and faculty in new and more developmental ways, like our recent Doctoral Student Workshop. We are more attuned to building a greater sense of community among the future leaders and scholars that we serve.”
Stephanie Van Hover, Assoc. Professor
Social Studies Education
Chair, Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education
“In teacher education we’ve focused on providing a broader range of field experiences for our students. While most remain in the Charlottesville-Albemarle area, we have teacher education students traveling to YESPrep! in Houston, Texas, working in Washington DC Public Charter Schools, and student teaching in the United Kingdom in Cambridge and Belfast.”
Glen Bull, Professor
“The Curry School has positioned itself to take advantage of entrepreneurial opportunities that will become available in the coming century. Almost every profession from journalism to manufacturing is being affected by mobile and social computing. These changes are also affecting the very nature of education. Curry faculty members and researchers are on the forefront of innovation in this area.
“This has also led to collaborative efforts with other schools, ranging from the Darden School to the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. This visionary thinking should stand the education school in good stead in an era of increased accountability and professionalism.”
Brian Pusser, Assoc. Professor
“Now more than ever, the success of the Curry School depends on building on our own expertise and resources by leading new forms of partnership that reach beyond the school. In the Higher Education program over the past decade, we have increasingly developed new knowledge, policies, and practices, research projects and publications, and a variety of opportunities for our students with support from colleagues in other programs within Curry, across the Grounds, nationally, and around the world.
“It’s an exciting time to build on the great work of those that came before us and to prepare the next generation of scholars and leaders in Higher Education.”
Nancy Deutsch, Assoc. Professor
Research, Statistics, and Evaluation
“I have been impressed to see Curry undertake a number of initiatives aimed at both understanding and improving the student experience. These range from initiatives revolving around diversity and the climate at Curry to a mentorship model for doctoral education. The faculty is engaged in thinking about how we can provide students with the highest caliber experience.”
US Novartis Professor of Education
“The world of higher education is becoming increasingly fluid, dynamic, and complex. The ways we have provided academic content—even the nature of that content—are changing rapidly.
Technology is the easiest example of a disruptive force, pushing distance learning, asynchronous engagement, and “flipping” the classroom to focus on group work. Some of our students will be supervised in a field placement using the Internet as the means of communicating with their supervisor.
“Students are also changing. They come with a set of proficiencies and skills—in technology, social media, global engagement, commitment to public service—that challenge us to redefine how and what we teach.
“Perhaps most importantly, the needs of the sectors we serve—preK-12 education, higher education, human service and health professions—are also changing. In education, the Common Core standards are advancing a focus on problem solving and higher order thinking. In human services and health the challenges of ever-decreasing financial support combined with rising needs and demands for services pose serious concerns.
“Curry is dealing with all these realities throughout a renewed process of re-invention and re-calibration of our academic offerings to align with these challenges, opportunities, and forces. For the past couple years, leading into a concentrated effort at this year’s annual faculty retreat, the Curry faculty has been engaged in what I suspect will be an ongoing process of design and re-design.
In a very real sense, this is how we position ourselves in the current climate of higher education—an enacted commitment to renewal, excellence, and relevance in a context of change.”