We are proud that once again a significant number of Education at Illinois faculty members were recognized at the AERA Annual Meeting. The 2016 AERA theme was “Public Scholarship to Educate Diverse Democracies.” Congratulations to the following College of Education faculty members who continue to demonstrate our commitment to affecting public policy in a range of areas, including access, equity, and higher education funding, amid complex conditions of constant change in education:
- Stafford Hood – 2016 AERA Fellow
- Lilian Katz – AERA Career Achievement Award SIG Division of Early Childhood and Child Development
- James D. Anderson – 2016 AERA Palmer O. Johnson Memorial Award
- Luz Murillo – Distinguished Recognition of Scholar Activism Critical Educators for Social Justice Special Interest Group of AERA
Overall, the College had 42 faculty members who presented at this year’s AERA conference and 70 graduate students who participated. I was honored to be a participant myself at the invitation-only “Higher Education Leadership Conference on Advancing Public Scholarship in Education Research” session on April 7, which covered the crucial topics of building research-meaningful metrics and the dimensions of public scholarship.
Following the excellent news in January that the College rose to the top 10 of the nation’s Best Online Graduate Programs as ranked by U.S. News & World Report, I am happy to say that we have retained our high rankings in other academic areas of the college and remain among the top education colleges in the nation. Education at Illinois was ranked # 23 overall and is home to three top 10 graduate programs:
- Curriculum & Instruction - #10
- Educational Psychology - #7
- Special Education - #10
On the student front, we want to recognize the tremendous work of the 13 committee members who served on the 2016 College of Education Graduate Student Conference. This committee put particular emphasis this year on representing our varied departments in the College while expanding the conference to a campuswide level and attracting students from other universities. They accomplished those goals and more, while once again demonstrating that our graduate students contribute greatly to shaping the future of individuals and society. For seven years now the Graduate Student Conference has demonstrated the level of commitment of our graduate students, their sense of purpose, and the scholarly community they create in our College.
Additionally, emerging scholars from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, including a few from the College of Education, are competing in this year's prestigious Sloboda and Bukoski Society for Prevention Research Cup. Only six teams qualified nationwide, and competition is fierce. We wish budding researchers Jordan Davis, Lisa De La Rue, Tyler Hatchel, Ashleigh Jones, and Joey Merrin the best of luck this spring. The winners will be announced during the Society for Prevention Research Cup annual conference, which takes place May 31 through June 3 in San Francisco.
Not all news surrounding our great university has been good, as anyone paying attention to news of the state of Illinois realizes. As the state funding issue in Illinois becomes more worrisome, Christopher Higgins, an associate professor in the Department of Education Policy, Organization & Leadership, said higher education nationwide is in a “death spiral” while lecturing at Eastern Illinois University. Sadly, Professor Higgins may be right as he explained how a repeating loop of negative events is solidifying into a process that is making undesirable impacts on higher education inescapable. If you live in Illinois I encourage you to reach out to your legislators to help end the budget standoff and convey to them how critical it is to support higher education.
Lastly, I write with deep sorrow that Bonnie Armbruster died of pneumonia in Bend, Oregon, on March 1. Dr. Armbruster was affiliated with the College of Education for more 30 years. She received her Ph.D. from Illinois in 1979 and joined the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in 1987 as an associate professor, teaching a range of literacy courses until her retirement in 2009. Students in her “Serving Children in Schools and Community” course provided countless hours of tutoring to local districts, and her groundbreaking book, Put Reading First: The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children to Read (2001), was widely cited. Bonnie was a great mentor to young faculty in our College and incredibly generous with her time in supporting them. I remember her well for her steadfast commitment to her scholarship and the needs of our students. She will be deeply missed.
Dean and Professor