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Outside Panel Recommends Changes


Visiting Scholars Make Recommendations for Graduate School of Education

Recommendations include establishing an advisory board for the school and hiring senior faculty.

(February 6, 2008)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) -- The University of California, Riverside will immediately implement the recommendations of a visiting team of scholars charged with reviewing diversity and climate issues at the Graduate School of Education.

The report urges the school to promote a broader exchange of ideas and perspectives, form an advisory board for the graduate school, and increase ties to the community. It also recommends hiring senior faculty to provide leadership to the intellectual life of the school.

Executive Vice Chancellor Ellen Wartella and Dean Steven Bossert both committed to act quickly on the recommendations made by the team, which includes Associate Professor Mitchell Chang and Professor Daniel Solórzano, both of UCLA’s Department of Education, and Associate Vice President for Diversity Octavio Villalpando from the University of Utah.

“The visiting committee of scholars raised very real and significant issues, and made recommendations which we intend to enact,” Wartella said. “I’m grateful to them for their expertise and thoughtfulness, and to the community members who have expressed so much interest and concern.”

UCR’s Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Latino issues, along with a coalition of others, first raised concerns about the Graduate School of Education and a shortage of faculty from diverse backgrounds.

Wartella also thanked faculty in the Graduate School of Education for the many improvements already in the planning stages. “I am especially pleased that, after an extensive search process, the school has recently extended offers to four outstanding new faculty, all underrepresented minorities in fields of special interest to our region.”

Of the four faculty, two have formally accepted and two are in negotiations. The four areas of research are:
• Higher education policy, with a focus on identifying factors that influence the graduation and dropout rates among Latina/o community college students in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields.
• The politics of higher education policy, focusing on how state and federal educational budgets affect access, equity, and success of minority students in higher education.
• Educational equity and cultural diversity with an emphasis on bilingual, English as a Second Language (ESL), and special education students in K-12 schools.
• School psychology, with a focus on the social-emotional and academic outcomes for Latino immigrant high school students.

In response to a recommendation from the visiting team about faculty mentoring, Dean Bossert said each new hire will have four people assigned as mentors: one faculty member from inside the graduate school; one faculty member of color from the larger campus; one education professional from a local school; and one nationally recognized scholar in the same field of study, from outside UCR.

In addition, the Dean recently launched an academic planning process that will identify critical areas for future investment, with particular attention to the need for senior faculty hires.

“In a public research university, it is the senior faculty who serve as role models and advocates for the next generation of scholars,” Wartella said. “A good mix of senior leaders, up-and-coming junior faculty, and promising students, all from diverse backgrounds, is essential to a rich intellectual exchange.”

The visiting team urged the Graduate School of Education’s academic leaders to foster a diversity of ideas and perspectives, particularly in areas of urban education, second language acquisition, and educational policy. As part of this effort, Dean Bossert is holding a colloquium series on diversity-related issues. The next speaker will be Gilberto Conchas, associate professor of education at UC Irvine, whose work focuses on inequality, with an emphasis on urban school systems. The community will be invited to attend.

The visiting team also called upon faculty and students in the Graduate School of Education to bring their scholarship and expertise to bear on the many educational issues facing Inland Empire schools, especially around diversity-related issues. As recommended by the visiting team, an advisory board will be appointed, comprised of school leaders in the region, alumni of the school, community leaders, and education faculty from other UC campuses.

The role of the advisory board will be to provide input to the Graduate School of Education and the campus administration on issues related to intellectual diversity, engagement with the area’s K-12 community, and responsiveness to community issues.

The visiting team cited the graduate school’s teacher education program as one of its strongest assets. “Supervisors from schools in which GSOE student teachers are placed expressed great satisfaction with student teachers, and some wished they had more student teachers and more access to the School’s resources,” the report stated.

The report concluded by calling upon the Graduate School of Education to realize its potential to become a national leader in the areas of educational equity and urban education issues, drawing upon its location in one of the most diverse regions in the country.

The team visited UC Riverside Jan. 14 through 16. During their visit, team members interviewed more than 100 people, including faculty, students, staff, alumni, and members of the educational community and community at large, including the Latino Network and chancellor’s ethnic advisory groups.

The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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