Blue ribbon committee will assess programs in education at Indiana University

Friday, March 6, 2015

Indiana University announced it has formed a blue ribbon committee to conduct a comprehensive review of its programs in education at Bloomington, Indianapolis and the regional campuses, as foreshadowed in the IU Bicentennial Strategic Plan.

The effort comes with the retirement of IU School of Education Dean Gerardo Gonzalez, after 15 years of serving in that position, and advances the university's Bicentennial Strategic Plan making "re-imagining education" one of eight major priorities for the next five years. Gonzalez will step down as dean at the end of June.

An outside committee of experts will work with the IU schools of education to engage in a process of strategic renewal to best serve the educational challenges in coming decades.

"Of vital important to the future of Indiana are robust schools of education at all of IU's campuses," IU President Michael A. McRobbie said. "They play a leading role in the state in preparing teachers, counselors, school administrators and higher education leaders and producing innovative research on teacher and counselor training, pedagogy, curriculum development, educational technology and administration.

"I am delighted that five thought leaders in education have agreed to serve on the blue ribbon committee to assess how IU best prepares graduates for successful careers in education," McRobbie said.

Chairing the Blue Ribbon Committee on Education Review will be Carole Ames, dean and professor emerita at the College of Education at Michigan State University.

Ames, who stepped down after 18 years as education dean at Michigan State University in 2014, is a respected voice among her peers. She is credited for strengthening the school through periods of school reforms, shifting priorities and a revolution in technological development.

Under her leadership, the school developed programs that today continue to prepare scholars and practitioners for challenges facing students, in specialties such as school psychology and exercise physiology and across more than 15 academic areas.

Joining Ames on the committee will be:

  • David Harris, founder and CEO, The Mind Trust
  • Diana Hess, senior vice president of the Spencer Foundation and a professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Alex Molnar, research professor and publications director of the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado Boulder
  • Wendy Robinson, superintendent, Fort Wayne Community Schools

Harris launched The Mind Trust in 2006 with former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson. The organization has impacted more than 113,000 students through its network of 19 education organizations. It advances innovation in education and creates great schools through its three incubators: the Charter School Incubator, the Education Entrepreneur Fellowship and the Innovation School Fellowship.

Before starting The Mind Trust, Harris spent five years as Peterson's charter schools director, where he built a charter school office that received Harvard University's Innovations in American Government Award. In 2007, he was among 25 education leaders selected for the Aspen Institute and NewSchools Venture Fund's inaugural Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education Program.

Hess is the senior vice president of the Spencer Foundation and a professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also is a former high school teacher and associate executive director of the Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago. She is the author of several books on how teachers engage their students in discussions of controversial issues.

Molnar has published numerous articles on social and educational policy and practice. For the past several years, he has studied and written about commercial activities in the schools and market-based school reforms such as private school vouchers, charter schools and for-profit schools.

Robinson has more than three decades of experience in public education. She was one of the members of the inaugural class of Broad Center Fellows, a program designed to prepare and challenge urban school leaders and today is a national expert on the topic. She received the National Alliance of Black School Educators' Joseph E. Hill Superintendent of the Year Award in 2009.

The IU School of Education is a core school and is located at IU Bloomington and IUPUI. At IU Bloomington, it offers residential bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs and graduate online programs, several of which are nationally ranked. At Indianapolis, the school offers undergraduate and master's programs and a doctorate in urban education studies.

The university also operates programs that educate future teachers on its six regional campuses, which have separate schools led by deans. All of the deans coordinate programs and initiatives. They primarily offer undergraduate degrees but also have master's-level programs.