UAS to lead School of Education

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The University of Alaska Southeast will keep the School of Education, becoming the administrative center for teacher education and training within the UA, according to a recent announcement.

This marks a shift from statements made last November, when UA System President Johnsen suggested UAF would host the central school of education. Johnsen changed his recommendation during a special Board of Regents meeting held in Juneau in mid-December.

“There have been statements of support for the recommendation I made to you in November, and there have been statements in opposition,” Johnsen said during a presentation to the board. “The statements in opposition to that recommendation are overwhelmingly greater than the statements in support.”

Response to the move from UAF students was mixed.

“I don’t think it was a good idea to choose Juneau because it’s really isolated,” Lydia Arndt, a senior Psychology student said. “I think it would be better to keep it in Fairbanks or Anchorage because they’re going to be needing to do field work in the schools and I think there’s a lot more opportunity here.”

Stacia Cascio, a civil engineering student in her junior year, felt differently.

“I think that’s good because it’s still offered at all the other campuses and they’re all part of the same university system so that will cut down on the administration where a lot of money is going,” Cascio said.

Currently, each UA campus possesses its own school of education, each with their own dean. According to this new plan, the administrative center and main school will be placed at UAS with smaller programs still available at the other campuses.

“The Board identified UA Southeast to be the administrative lead in this effort, but the college will continue to have programs and faculty in Fairbanks and Anchorage,” Caulfield said. “Students will be able to complete their education degrees in these locations, just as they do now.”

A more detailed plan for the transition will be released in July.

Juneau Mayor Ken Koelsch, Juneau’s assembly members and legislative delegation, Lt. Gov Byron Mallot and UAS faculty all expressed their disapproval of the initial plan, according to Johnsen.

Johnsen pointed out that the comments in opposition were not necessarily criticizing UAF but simply emphasizing the stronger program at UAS.

“What I learned was that this program was really existential to the University of Alaska Southeast,” Johnsen said, “that the loss to the campus would be enormous at Southeast compared to the loss of leadership of teacher preparation at the other two universities. My sense would be, this would be UAS’s top priority as a university.”

The Board of Regents voted unanimously in support of the decision.

“I think we’re taking a right step here to recognize the quality of the education program that we have here,” Regent Dale Anderson, who lives in Juneau, said.

Johnsen has stated one of his goals for the UA system is training 90 percent of Alaska’s new teacher hires. Currently only about a third of new teacher hires in Alaska are trained in-state.

Regent John Davies, among other regents, emphasized the strength in choosing the Juneau campus based in part on the chancellor.

“With the incredible commitment to doing the teacher education program, we will get leadership there that will make that a very important part of every day. Specifically, the chancellor there, Rick Caulfield, has experience with working with folks here in Fairbanks and across the state and will be a very effective state-wide leader in this program,” Davies said.

Caulfield said he supported the decision and looks forward making the transition as smooth as possible.

“We’re just beginning the transition to this new college. That transition will take some time and will involve faculty, staff, and students across the entire state,” Caulfield said. “I’ll be working closely with Interim Chancellor Thomas at UAF and Chancellor Case at UAA to ensure that we create a college that offers innovative high quality programs, serves students well, and prepares Alaskan teachers for 21st century classrooms.”

Many regents felt UAS was the obvious choice.

“When we started Strategic Pathways this past January, University of Alaska Southeast was identified as a core for providing quality teachers here in Alaska,” Regent Lisa Parker said, “and that was one of the strengths that was identified—that we were going to place teaching in Southeast and that we were going to build on that.”

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