As we move through the first semester of the academic year, I am struck by the amount of exciting, thought provoking, and innovative working happening across our College. Each day, our passionate and skilled students, staff, and faculty engage deeply with our vision to enhance education equity and transform lives. Leading such a talented community often means discovering new ways to uplift the work that others are doing, and doing what I can to empower them towards success.

With that in mind, I have the great pleasure of announcing that we have appointed Dr. Valerie Shirley and Dr. Jeremy Garcia, both Associate Professors in the Department of Teaching, Learning & Sociocultural Studies, as Dean's Fellows for Indigenous Education. In this role, they will build upon their work to center and uplift Indigenous stories, concerns, needs, languages, and knowledge systems by increasing the academic achievement of Native students and bringing about positive social change in Indigenous communities.

The fellowship will allow Drs. Shirley and Garcia to deepen their relationships with Indigenous students, educators, and leaders within the College of Education, the University of Arizona, and the 22 Arizona tribal nations, furthering their efforts to indigenize educational pedagogy and curricula. They will continue to give leadership to the Indigenous Teacher Education Project and lead efforts to develop a College of Education Indigenous Education Center, while also representing the College and the University nationally in Indigenous education discussions and efforts. We feel incredibly privileged to support the work of these two outstanding academics, and we hope you’ll join us in wishing them congratulations in these expanded roles.

Many other changes continue to happen every day in the College. Our student services construction has made exciting progress and is on track to open next Spring. We have also hired a new Director of Development, Erica Travassos, who will begin working with us next week and will give new leadership to our efforts to support and sustain our students, faculty, and staff. 

On the note of new leadership, I must also inform you that I have announced my intention to step down as Dean at the end of this academic year. After 15 years in leadership positions in the College of Education, 5 years as Dean following 10 years as Department Head, I have decided that it is time for me to return to teaching, research, and service as a professor in the department of Teaching, Learning and Sociocultural Studies. I do not have very many years until retirement, and I want to spend those focused on the reasons I entered academia. I will continue to serve as Dean through June 2022, and I will be on research leave in 2022-23. I have research and programmatic projects with colleagues on six continents, and I am looking forward to focusing on those next year and beyond.

It has been a privilege and honor to serve as a leader in the department and College. I came to the College of Education as an Assistant Professor in 2000, and I have enjoyed and benefited from wonderful guidance, mentorship, collegiality, and partnerships with so many talented and dedicated people. A national search for the next Dean of the College of Education will begin shortly, and I look forward to a smooth and successful transition.