As the dean of the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), I’m proud of the important work done by our faculty in 2017. This includes groundbreaking educational research, teaching innovations and community outreach that has made CEHD a world leader – driven by our mission of improving lives in Minnesota and across the globe. With the help of the community of CEHD alumni and benefactors, we will continue to push forward in creating a better future for the next generation.
Bringing Our Research to the World
CEHD’s mission is to offer our students the best possible education, built on evidence-based curriculum. We also want to make an impact in the world beyond our campus. To accomplish these goals, we’ve continued to advance as a premier research college and a leader in developing technology and software solutions that make our discoveries accessible to the world.
In the past year, CEHD faculty generated breakthrough child development and educational research. One of the most notable projects was Jed Elison and Jason Wolf’s work with brain imaging as a tool for the detection of autism. Early detection and intervention have been shown to have the ability to dramatically reduce the symptoms and severity of autism later in a child’s life. While further study is necessary, this has the potential to be a historic breakthrough in autism research.
Just as important are the strides we have made in partnership with CEHD’s Educational Technology Innovations, a group dedicated to building products that bring our best developmental and educational research and best practices to students, families and schools. Some examples of this include Abigail Gewirtz’s work on the Center for Resilient Families and Project ADAPT, which offers parents and military families better tools and resources to deal with trauma; a new mobile app for our Check & Connect student mentoring model; an online portal for our PRESS (Path to Reading Excellence in School Sites) teaching framework; Dexalytics, a new tool to help trainers better analyze and treat their athletes; and the continued success of FlipGrid, a social learning tool used by thousands of teachers and students across the country.
Making an Impact in Minnesota
As a land-grant institution, the University of Minnesota takes seriously its responsibility to make a positive impact on our state. We are always looking to expand our footprint in the community through initiatives like the Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center in Minneapolis. Here are a few statistics that measure how the University of Minnesota and CEHD make a difference in our state:
- The University ranks fifth among the largest employers in Minnesota. We employ more than 26,000 people statewide, providing $2.1 billion in wages.
- Systemwide, 63% of our alumni reside in Minnesota, and our living alumni total nearly 571,000.
- We are the 8th most active public research university in the nation, with more than $940 million in research expenditures.
- CEHD sponsored $42.4 million in programs and expenditures on educational and social programs across the state in 2017.
- We educate the next generation of Minnesotans: 66.7% of CEHD students – and 71.2% of our undergraduates – were from Minnesota in 2017.
Recognized for Excellence
Our college encompasses both education and human development curricula. While education remains at the core of our mission, we understand that learning does not occur in a vacuum. That’s why CEHD incorporates a variety of scientific and educational research in areas like child development, child psychology, kinesiology and educational equity. In years past, this forward-thinking approach meant that we were often ranked lower than colleges of education that used an older model. Thankfully, the education world finally seems to be catching up.
In 2017, CEHD and its programs were highly honored by the prestigious U.S. News and World Report national rankings. These included our Special Education program (#8) and Educational Psychology department (#9). CEHD was ranked as the 12th Best Public Education School in the nation and the 21st Best Education School in the nation overall.
We were also proud to be named as the number one public school of education by ShanghaiRankings Academic Ranking of World Universities. Overall, CEHD was ranked third behind prestigious private universities Harvard and Stanford. Ranking alongside these schools is evidence that our research faculty is producing work that is as important and innovative as any in the world.
Investing in Future Generations
The important work we do at CEHD would not be possible without the generosity of our faculty, alumni and benefactors. Our Improving Lives capital campaign has been a great success, raising more than $76 million to date with a new goal of reaching $100 million as part of the University’s overall $4 billion campaign. In the coming year, we hope to raise funds to begin building a new facility for the Institute of Child Development, the best child psychology program in the world.
However, the most important gifts we receive are the many scholarships and endowed chairs – many named after notable CEHD faculty and alumni – that provide ongoing support for students and scholars. Our number one priority in fundraising is to increase access to education and decrease the financial burden for students.
At CEHD, we believe in creating opportunity. In fact, nearly 40% of our incoming freshmen are first-generation college students. That’s the result of our efforts to promote diversity – and an admissions system that focuses on a student’s strengths rather than their weaknesses. I take great pride in the fact that our incoming freshmen have some of the lowest ACT scores among our competing colleges, yet we have the best freshman retention and graduation rates in the nation.
This is the result of putting our leading educational research into practice with a first-year program that’s rooted in evidence-based programs and curricula. Because so many of our students and families are unfamiliar with college, we create an experience that both addresses their needs and helps them feel a part of the University of Minnesota community. This includes everything from embedding advisors into the classroom to community building programs like having all our students and staff read a common book to spark a dialogue throughout the year. We also rely on Educational Technology Innovations to give students better tools to connect and create as part of the learning process.
Continuing to Innovate in 2018
I’m proud of CEHD’s success, but our work is far from over. With your help, we will continue to push forward on all fronts in 2018 with impactful research, teaching and technology. Some of our biggest priorities will be:
The developing brain. Through research and brain imaging we want to better understand the behavior of children from early childhood through adolescence, and continue to lead the world in autism research and interventions.
Children’s mental health. We will continue to place an emphasis on bettering the mental health of children and families. If possible, we want to create a clinic to conduct more training for child psychology, social work and counseling initiatives. We’ll also be using CEHD research to update our social work, counseling and mental health licensure programs with the most current knowledge and best practices.
Improving the way we deliver education. We’re placing an emphasis on determining the best possible way that we can deliver our classes to today’s students. All our faculty are making a significant effort to migrate their classes to a new learning management platform called CANVAS, which will make it easier for students and faculty to communicate with each other.
A commitment to diversity. We will continue hiring and recruiting efforts to increase the diversity of our faculty, staff, student body and curriculum.
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