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New college, school will lead to new opportunities

The University will soon divide the School of Education and Human Development into a new School of Education and a separate College of Community and Public Affairs.

The plan creates exciting opportunities for Binghamton as well as its faculty and students, said Mary Ann Swain, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Swain noted that many of the country’s top public education units are stand alone schools and colleges. “At a time of increased concern about the schooling of America’s children, Binghamton University must expand its expertise and programs and become a more predominant player in this national debate,” she wrote in her proposal to the Faculty Senate. “This requires having a school and a dean with a single minded purpose and very focused agenda.” The provost envisions the school doubling in size in its first five years or so and continuing to offer graduate level programs in teacher preparation.

“The new School of Education, albeit small, is one that has the faith of the higher administration to grow and flourish and we intend to do so,” said Robert Carpenter, interim dean of SEHD. “It’s an exciting time for us.”

Meanwhile, the new college will draw together those in the current divisions of social work and human development, along with those in the Master’s in Public Administration program.

“Each program, in one way or another, seeks to prepare graduates to work with individuals, communities and organizations for the public good,” Swain noted.

The new college will move downtown to the Binghamton University Education and Community Development Center when it opens in 2007. The provost envisions that college’s enrollment rising by about 50 percent over five years.

Carpenter called the plan a “grand initiative” and noted that it’s logical for professional schools to be close to the populations they serve.

The downtown center will provide opportunities for cross-disciplinary research and put students and faculty members close to community groups they can study and assist.

“This makes all sorts of sense to me,” Carpenter said. “If you wanted to study marine biology, you’d go to a school on the coast.” He and Swain acknowledged that there are concerns about connections between the downtown center and the current campus.

“We’re committed to having a very efficient bus service,” Swain said.

Besides, they said, faculty members are already accustomed to collaborating with researchers outside the University and, indeed, outside the country. Technology has made communication and collaboration easier than ever.

“I think the intellectual work will keep people connected,” Swain said.

As far as students are concerned, undergraduates in the new college will live on campus as freshmen and may have as little as one class a week at the downtown center in their first two years. Many upperclassmen already live off campus and could find it advantageous to have the bulk of their classes downtown as juniors and seniors.

Carpenter expects to remain interim dean for an additional year. A national search for a replacement will begin late this year or early in 2007. Meanwhile, an interim dean will soon be named for the new college, he said.

The new school and college dovetail with the University’s strategic plan, which calls for the development of new units as part of the continued growth and diversification of academic programs. Adding schools and colleges can heighten the University’s visibility.

“Visibility and reputation,” Swain wrote, “often tip the balance in decisions that result in resources students deciding where to apply and enroll, faculty deciding which offer to take, other campuses deciding where to seek a partner in research and other initiatives, investors and donors deciding where to put their funds.”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08