CEHD in 2016: New Challenges and New Opportunities

With each year comes new challenges and new opportunities. At CEHD, 2016 will be a year in which we continue to grow and enhance our ability to deliver on our mission of improving the lives of people in Minnesota and around the world. With that in mind, we have a number of initiatives intended to bring the research and technology that we are developing at CEHD to our schools, families and communities to drive progress on a host of issues in education and child development.

Our plans are ambitious, but with the talent and drive of our faculty and the generous support we’ve received from our alumni and the community at large, I believe that this will be a landmark year for CEHD. Here are just a few of the ways that CEHD will make a difference in 2016.

Bridging the Achievement Gap

We’ve been working for years to research and develop solutions to reduce the achievement gap and increase educational equity. We believe that every student in America should have an equal opportunity in education – and that more diversity in the teaching profession is an important means of empowering students in underserved populations.

In 2015, we began programs that create multiple pathways to licensure for a new, more diverse generation of aspiring teachers, working with Minneapolis Public Schools and Northeast Metro School District 916.

With the success that these pilot initiatives have had, we hope to continue these programs and expand them to other school districts. Minnesota has a tremendous need for talented teachers, and we believe much of that talent is already in our schools. By empowering educational assistants and other support staff to earn their teaching licenses, we will help diversify Minnesota’s teaching corps with professionals who already have classroom experience and a commitment to education. More importantly, we’re doing it in partnership with private organizations, the school districts and the teachers’ unions. Our programs work and they can serve as models for other states and cities.

Additionally, we’ll be paying special attention to the problem of childhood and adult literacy with a new endowed chair, funded by the Stern family, for a researcher who will be studying ways to aid struggling readers.

CEHD will also be leading the way on the achievement gap with a one-of-a-kind convening of national educational leaders this summer when we host Educational Equity in Action. The event will gather teaching professionals, researchers, policy makers and non-profit organizations committed to improving educational equity. It’s the culmination of much of the work we’ve done for the past few years, and a great opportunity to create new partnerships and plans for action.

However, you don’t have to wait until June to get involved. Once you register for Educational Equity in Action, you can begin to shape the conversations that will be had at the convening with your fellow attendees through the FlipGrid app, which was developed here at CEHD.

Addressing Children’s Mental Health

We’ll be placing an emphasis on one of the most critical issues facing our society: children’s mental health. In classrooms today, teachers often encounter children who are frustrated in the classroom and aggressively act out. We’re also seeing higher rates of depression in children. These students are underperforming academically not because of a lack of ability, but due to a variety of psychological issues. Through new research and better intervention techniques, we can help our students not only perform better in the classroom, but be happier and more productive outside of it.

To help accomplish this goal, we’re raising funds to build a new facility for our Institute of Child Development, which is the world’s most respected child psychology department. This new facility will house not only a premier research and learning center, but provide a better home for the Shirley G. Moore Lab School, which since 1925 has been a functioning preschool, teacher training facility and research center. The Institute of Child Development conducts some of CEHD’s most important work, and this new facility will support and enhance its mission in the future.

We’ll also be expanding our research on children’s mental health with a new endowed chair, which was generously funded by John and Nancy Lindahl.

Making Research Accessible

FlipGrid is just one example of how we’ll be using technology to bring CEHD research and knowledge out of the classroom and into our communities. The newly renamed Educational Technology Innovation (formerly the Institute for Design Innovation) is working on a number of yet-to-be announced app- and web-based products that will bring CEHD’s best practices and interventions to the teaching community.

In the past, CEHD educational information had to be delivered in traditional printed format – which can be prohibitively expensive for some schools. Educational Technology Innovation is developing ways to deliver this information in more accessible and engaging ways. Soon, anyone with a computer or smart device will be able to access up-to-date, research-based educational interventions developed by CEHD. More importantly, they’ll also be able to use these web- and app-based portals to ask questions and have conversations with their peers. I can’t wait to tell you more in the coming year.

We’ll also be continuing and expanding Dave Ernst’s Open Textbooks Initiative. Once again, it’s about getting information available from various sources and putting it into packets of information or accessible textbooks that are free for school districts. We’ve already had great success with the program on the post-secondary level, in colleges and community colleges all over the country including Ohio State, Purdue and Temple.  In 2016, we will be partnering with high school districts to look at ways we can reduce their costs by digitally providing them with less expensive educational materials.

Serving The Needs of Our Community

While pushing forward on one of our core missions of educating the next generation of Minnesota teachers, CEHD is also looking to the future and how we can help fill the other needs of our state. One of the most exciting new programs we’ll be launching in 2016 is the Center for Sales Leadership Education. This is a response to the needs of our students and Minnesota’s business community. Whether engaged in a direct sales career or not, developing sales skills are crucial to success in today’s economy.

At CSLE, we’re using educational research to discover the best way to teach sales skills – and using technology to create an environment where students can engage in hands-on learning. By combining CEHD’s best educational practices with cutting-edge marketing, business and human resources knowledge, CSLE will offer students a truly comprehensive sales education.

Exceeding Giving Expectations

Finally, I’d like to thank all of the donors, alumni and philanthropic organizations who have given so generously to our Improving Lives capital campaign. In 2012, we set a goal of raising $62 million by 2018. As 2016 begins, I’m happy to report that we have raised nearly $50 million of that goal. I believe that’s a testament to the quality of our college and the tremendous support CEHD has throughout the state of Minnesota and beyond. It’s been extremely gratifying to watch the momentum grow.

While $50 million is certainly an impressive figure, I’d like to leave you with another statistic that shows what CEHD is all about. In addition to our traditional funding efforts, in 2015 we launched a faculty and staff giving campaign, encouraging the people who work at CEHD to invest in its future. When we started, people told me we’d do well to get a quarter of our faculty and staff to participate.

Today, I’m happy to say that 74% of our faculty and staff have given to the Improving Lives campaign. I think that says a lot about the commitment the people who work at CEHD have to its mission. It’s just more proof that we have the finest faculty and staff in the world, and it’s their hard work and dedication that have made CEHD what it is today. With their help and yours, 2016 will be a truly exciting year for our college as we continue on our mission: Improving Lives.

About the Author

Jean K. Quam, Ph.D.

  • Dean
  • College of Education and Human Development
  • University of Minnesota

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