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The Graduate School of Education will become the Department of Education in the College of Community and Public Affairs, effective July 1, 2017.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen
Merger of two schools receives green light
February 22, 2017Tweet
The Faculty Senate on Tuesday gave its approval to the merger of the Graduate School of Education (GSE) and the College of Community and Public Affairs (CCPA), a step that had been under discussion by the two schools for nine months. During the fall 2016 semester, faculty and staff in each school voted in favor of the merger, which had the strong support of Laura Bronstein, dean of CCPA, and Susan Strehle, interim dean of GSE and vice provost and dean of the Graduate School. The two schools were created in 2006, with the split of the School of Education and Human Development.
Upon the recommendation of Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Nieman, the Faculty Senate Executive Committee unanimously recommended the proposed merger and, with no votes against, the Senate followed suit. The merger is to take effect July 1.
“With this vote from the Faculty Senate in favor of the merger of these two schools, everyone is on the same page,” said President Harvey Stenger. “Given the many collaborations between CCPA and GSE, it’s the right decision at the right time. This merger will enable faculty in both schools to enrich the work they do to benefit our students and the surrounding communities.”
Prior to the vote, Nieman spoke for the proposal.
The faculty and staff of the two schools have voted to support merging, he said, with the Department of Education to become the fifth department in CCPA.
Nieman cited declining enrollment trends in teaching programs across the SUNY system and state, and the more positive synergies that will result among faculty as reasons for the decision. “We haven’t achieved the growth that was the rationale for creating GSE in 2006,” he said. “But the more positive reason is the strong synergies between faculty and programs in the two schools. There are clear and consistent shared values that animate both GSE and CCPA: community engagement, social justice and diversity.
“These shared values provide a good foundation on which to integrate the two units,” he said.
Susan Strehle, interim dean of the GSE, reiterated the benefits of the merger. “The faculty in both schools who are on the ground are in favor of the move.”
CCPA is home to the Promise Zone, an externally funded program that helps area schools become community schools and hubs for health and social services delivery as well as education, Nieman added. “Several GSE faculty are also instrumental in this,” he said. “Faculty in GSE have even written a community schools certificate program into a master’s degree proposal with CCPA faculty and there are potential synergies elsewhere.”
Nieman said that, as an independent department within CCPA, education faculty will have the autonomy they need to move their programs forward and benefit from collaboration with like-minded faculty in CCPA.
Nieman also noted that CCPA is the University’s most diverse school and has been involved in a visioning process that looks to its future. “One of the major foci has been enhancing diversity and inclusion,” he said. “As a result of the process, the school has decided to invest in diversity and will recruit a consultant to come and evaluate policies and practices to be sure they are conducive to inclusion and diversity. A GSE faculty member has already become involved in this process, and I see CCPA and the Department of Education both benefiting from a focus on diversity.”
Lisa Tessman, chair of the Faculty Senate Diversity Committee, said the committee supported the merger.
Asked if there was concern about a continued decline in enrollment for teacher education, CCPA Dean Laura Bronstein said that enrollments have grown in all of CCPA’s master’s programs and the expectation is that education will also grow. “We will be equally creative with education and by coming together we can do more,” she said. “A year ago we created a cross-college enrollment and recruitment committee where we’re looking specifically at what’s working. We share ideas and best practices in enrollment and recruitment so none of our faculty are the emissary of just their own department, and we promote these strategies that support CCPA overall.”
Strehle echoed Bronstein’s confidence. There has been an outflow of teachers due to the declining population in the northeast, she said, and with the many societal problems young students face, it has become more difficult to recruit prospective teachers. “This is cultural, national and local all coming together, and with CCPA around the Education Department, and in collaboration, education will increase and be fine,” she said.
Faculty and staff from CCPA and the GSE have been meeting for the past few months to lay the ground work for the July 1 merger, to be ready for the 2017-2018 academic year.