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Monday, March 14, 2011

USI to reposition departments of Physical Education, Social Work, and Teacher Education

Contact for more information:
Kathy Funke
Director, News & Information Services
University of Southern Indiana President Linda L. M. Bennett announced today organizational changes for three academic departments, effective July 1, 2011.

The departments of Teacher Education and Physical Education will be integrated into the Pott College of Science and Engineering, and the Social Work Department will become part of the College of Liberal Arts. The departments will not physically move, nor will students see any immediate changes in their academic programs or services.

"The repositioning is intended to strengthen collaboration between teacher education and disciplines critical to educating our community," said Bennett. "Those disciplines include math and the sciences as well as social sciences, history, and humanities. The professional development of teachers is a University-wide responsibility and everyone at USI will invest in its success."

National concern for the preparation of teachers
"This step we're taking aligns with suggestions offered by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) to deeply ground students in the subject matters the students plan to teach," said Provost Ronald S. Rochon, a national expert in the teacher education field, who also holds two degrees in science.

"There is nothing more important than our children and their future. With this move we are investing in the process of faculty collaboration, both methodology and discipline-based instruction, so new teachers can master the content of the subjects they'll teach while instructing more effectively," said Rochon.

"At USI we want to strengthen collaboration between content and teaching methods in a manner that will enhance instruction for all students, but especially for the next generation of teachers who study at USI," he said. "Further, as we implement ongoing clinical development for educators, we will bring content expertise to serve our school district partners."

Rochon said, "We are held accountable to produce teachers who understand the needs of Pk-12 classrooms, bringing forward the relevant and effective pedagogical practices advancing the intellectual development of children within our region.

"The constant cry from employers is for more workers in the STEM fields," President Bennett said. "Indiana needs talented teachers to instruct students working toward a career in those areas."

Numerous reports conclude the American education system is not adequately preparing the next generation of employees for advanced manufacturing careers that require skills of computer literacy, reading, math, and reasoning abilities. Through National Science Foundation funding, USI has established the Southwest Indiana STEM Resource Center in the Pott College of Science and Engineering to assist educators with current techniques and tools to prepare students for 21st century jobs. Pott College's STEM initiatives align with an interdisciplinary approach to teacher education. Curriculum planning and implementation will be a joint endeavor between faculty in teacher education and faculty in other academic disciplines across the University.

Physical education
The physical education curriculum offers programs in coaching, kinesiology, sport management, and physical education. "The faculty within this department has broadened the curriculum and the class offerings in these programs and will interact well in the sciences," Rochon said.

Social work
The social work academic programs prepare students for work with diverse populations and emerging social issues at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Rochon said, "Liberal Arts programs in criminal justice, psychology, and sociology intersect well with the social work curriculum, and the departments will complement one another."

Teacher preparation: part of USI history
"Teacher preparation has a celebrated history at USI and has been continuously nationally accredited since 1973," said Rochon. "Teaching is a prestigious career choice, and USI is committed to preparing student teachers to lead the modern classroom. The repositioning of the departments will bring together brilliant minds to elevate teacher preparation so student teachers can master the subjects they plan to teach and also learn the best teaching methods."

Reputation for continuing education for teachers
"The University already has a strong reputation for continuing education opportunities for teachers in STEM disciplines - science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and in other fields such as history through Historic Southern Indiana's Lincoln workshops," Bennett added. "USI is a site for the National Writing Project program to improve writing and reading. The local effort is the River Bend Writing Project Summer Institute which serves teachers of writing at all grade levels and in all subjects."

Council to form
Rochon announced a university-wide Teacher Education Council will be formed to lead the effort. "The council will include representatives from the deans, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community to chart a course of action," he said. "We want to work closely with education partners in the surrounding counties to get input about the needs of educators and students."

More than 5,000 alumni and a current student population of 1,367 undergraduates and 179 graduate students are in the departments being repositioned.

Recognition given to generous donor
The University will continue careful stewardship of contributions given to the USI Foundation for the College of Education and Human Services. The generous donation by Dallas Bower-Suhrheinrich of a $1 million gift during USI's first capital campaign in 1998 established three Presidential Scholarships, faculty enhancements, and programs to promote teaching excellence. In recognition of her gift, the college bears her name. Stewardship of the Bower-Suhrheinrich gift and honoring this important donor will continue. Plans are to establish seminars and other programming to be named in Bower-Suhrheinrich's honor.

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