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Education Dean Lays Out Priorities

Interim Education School Dean Lays Out Priorities

John Levin wants to add new faculty positions, establish an undergraduate education minor and work with medical school students

(July 15, 2010)

John LevinEnlarge

John Levin

Just two weeks into his tenure as interim dean of the Graduate School of Education, John Levin already has a list of priorities: raise the school’s national profile through research, recruit more graduate students and increase the school’s community presence.

The steps to accomplish this include: adding new faculty positions, including an endowed chair in the area of learning disabilities; establishing an undergraduate education minor; and working with those who will teach in the soon-to-be established medical school.

"I don't think we need a radical departure from what we have been doing," Levin said. "But, I think we need to make a name for ourselves. Raise our profile."

Levin, who was named interim dean in April and took over July 1, replaced Steven Bossert, who, after six years as dean, is returning to full-time research and teaching.

Levin is settling in. He hired an executive assistant from a pool of 270 applicants. He is contemplating, and getting advice from GSOE staff on, what his office should look like. He had a new computer installed, but is still trying to figure the intricacies of Windows 7.

Meetings with Graduate School of Education faculty, staff, and administrators and university leadership have helped Levin lay out his priorities.

First, he wants faculty to seek more grants. Using the guidelines from the UCR 2020 strategic plan, he wants to build on the school's strengths, including special education, higher education, school psychology, social and cultural studies, the study of disadvantaged children and adults and teacher education.

He hopes this will be aided by a national search expected to begin for an endowed chair in the area of learning disabilities. He also wants to add a second faculty member, who would focus on underrepresented minorities and diversity issues.

Second, over time he wants to add 200 more master's and Ph.D. students. Currently, most graduate students come from local communities and work while attending classes.

He and the faculty want to start recruiting students nationally. To attract those students, the school needs to offer financial support. Levin is hoping that can be done, in part, through teaching assistantships that would come along with creating an undergraduate education minor. He hopes the faculty can work toward establishing the minor within two years.

Third, he wants to increase the school's public and university profile. He is encouraging faculty to attend community and educational events and seek out opportunities to be cited in the popular press. He has already started setting up meetings with area school superintendents.

He also believes education school faculty will play a role in teaching medical school faculty about pedagogy when the school opens.

Meanwhile, Levin plans to continue his research and direct the California Community College Collaborative (C4), a community college policy and research center at UCR. He has several ongoing projects.

C4 has been studying promising programs and program practices at California community colleges. The research is aimed at improving practices in California community colleges. Central to this is their goal decreasing the gap between attainment rates of underrepresented minority students and their more affluent white peers. .

C4 has begun a project on underrepresented minority faculty and their work at California community colleges. This is a follow-up of an investigation on the experiences of underrepresented graduate students at UCR.

Finally, working with Virginia Montero-Hernandez, a post-doctoral scholar who earned her Ph.D. from UCR last month, and a co-author of one of his books ("Community Colleges and Their Students”), Levin is preparing to study faculty at University of California, Cal State University and California community college campuses.

Through interviewing 18 faculty members at each of the three institutions, he wants to learn what they have in common, how much they are shaped by their institution and how this varies by gender, race and ethnicity. This project, along with working as a co-editor on a book on community colleges, as well as his other research activities, will have to fit in to his major role as dean.

The University of California, Riverside ( 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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