I come from a rich heritage of African American storytellers. In some African traditions, these storytellers or keepers of the culture were called griots. Griots were responsible for weaving the history of the past with the cadence of the present in order to pave the path for the future. When I accepted the role as the Dean of the College of Education at University of Northern Iowa, I knew that I needed to tap into the wondrous, cultural legacy of this place in order to establish the strategic initiatives for the future.
I have been on a quest since I arrived in July of 2010 to meet as many people as possible. I told the faculty and staff that in order to understand the context, I needed to know the people and their stories. All too often, the first interface with a person is through a problem or concern and I wanted to offset such an encounter by putting people first. In connecting with people, I was intentional about talking to alumni and emeriti faculty because they were the griots. They held the stories of the past that could be linked to the future.
I was surprised to discover that there were 28 faculty members who started their academic journey as students at Iowa State Teachers College, State College of Iowa, or the University of Northern Iowa. One colleague mentioned having degrees from all three iterations of the university. With the support of Merrie Schroeder and Mary-Sue Bartlett, we convened these faculty members for a conversation about the past, present, and future. The first group consisted of those faculty members who attended the university as undergraduates through the years of 1960-1979, which there were 15 faculty members noted. The other gathering was those from the years 1980 to 2010. There were 13 members of this group. The total years of service for the group from 1960-179 was 380 years. The group from 1980 -2010 provided 174 years of service. The picture on the back cover of the magazine captures these legacy faculty members who represent 554 years of outstanding teaching, scholarship, service, and leadership.
As we move into the future, it will be important to tape into this rich reservoir of knowledge and expertise to launch our initiatives to educate, serve, and lead. Inside the magazine, you will read the featured articles that spotlight exceptional teaching, service, and leadership endeavors that are emblematic of the work that is conducted by all faculty and staff in the College of Education at the University of Northern Iowa. I am so very honored and humbled to be asked to lead this great College. My goal is to lead the College from vision to action and from action to impact.