Dean Gallagher welcomes students, faculty and staff to new school year
Shares commitment to diversity and inclusion
Welcome to USC Rossier for the start of the 2016–17 academic year!
I wanted to take a moment to let you know how excited we are to have you with us—either as a returning student or at the start of your graduate program. You are all one step closer to becoming change agents—as teachers, counselors, scholars and educational leaders of tomorrow.
By the way, you attend classes at Rossier, either on campus in Los Angeles, online from one of 49 states and three dozen other countries or at one of our offsite locations in Hawaii, Singapore, Hong Kong, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
I enjoy meeting students at events throughout the year, from admit day and preview day all the way through to commencement. I hope to have the opportunity to meet many of you throughout the year.
Last week, USC Rossier faculty and staff conducted our own annual gathering. Our “Kick-Off” brought us together one week before classes began to celebrate our past achievements and set goals for the future.
In speaking to over 200 faculty and staff members, I said that everything we do at Rossier is focused on our students. You are the reason we are here. If you haven’t already, you will soon feel the power of the Trojan Family through the support of our faculty, alumni and your fellow students.
This sense of community extends beyond campus. We are situated in the heart of the second largest school district in the country, and we have one of the most diverse student populations of any school of education. No one race or ethnic group accounts for more than a third of the enrolled students. I believe USC Rossier is most effective when it strives to produce teachers, researchers and education leaders who look like the populations that they serve.
That’s why at Kick-Off I spoke about how Rossier needed to do better to increase the diversity of its faculty to mirror the diversity of its own student body. And that’s why we held a panel discussion titled “Promoting Understanding in Troubling Times,” which featured four faculty members and two returning doctoral students—Maria Ruelas and Antar Tichavakunda—who reflected on the relevance to educators of our country’s volatile political and social climate, from Dallas to Baton Rouge to Orlando to right here in Los Angeles. Indeed, our campus might be situated in LAUSD but our roles as educators must encompass this vast landscape of issues.
I have always operated under the assumption that we can simultaneously take pride in our accomplishments while also addressing areas that need improvement.
With this principle in mind, I wanted to share some of the goals that arose from this conversation:
- Our Faculty Council’s Equity and Inclusion Committee will be conducting a climate survey later this fall, asking all faculty, staff and students for input and proposing action steps for addressing its findings. Please respond; your voice is critical.
- I have created a Diversity Task Force that will include students and staff in addition to faculty. It is being chaired by Dr. Darline Robles, who is also Rossier’s liaison to Provost Michael Quick’s university-wide Diversity Committee.
- The faculty governance committees of all Rossier academic programs will engage in a thorough review of program curricular offerings and propose curriculum changes.
I want each and every student to know that—just like the two graduate students who took part in our panel discussion—you have a voice in this process of improving our climate and strengthening our community of educators.
With your participation and commitment, we will all work together to improve learning locally, nationally and globally.
Good luck to you this year.
Faculty and Staff
Dear Rossier Faculty and Staff Members,
Today, as we welcome our new and returning students for the fall term, I want to extend my appreciation to faculty and staff who work hard all year to bring us to this important day.
I am also sending a welcome message out to all of our students. They are either continuing or embarking on journeys that will transform them into change agents—as teachers, scholars and educational leaders of tomorrow. All of you have a role in this important process.
I want to express my appreciation once again to the panelists and moderators who provided such courageous leadership at the Kick-Off last week. In the conversation on promoting understanding, we witnessed four of our faculty colleagues and two doctoral students display an openness and vulnerability that I hope serves as a model for the rest of us as we move into and beyond 2016-17.
The discussion on public scholarship was a reminder that we have many paths for expressing our voices and disseminating our important work. In both panels, we saw how our personal and professional roles can overlap in compelling and challenging ways.
As we settle into our very busy jobs, I want to summarize the important action items that we discussed at Kick-Off:
- The Diversity Task Force will be led by Darline Robles, who also serves as Rossier’s Liaison to the Provost’s Diversity Committee. This will not duplicate the efforts of the Faculty Council’s Equity and Inclusion Committee; it will include faculty as well as staff and students in an attempt to reflect the interests of the entire school. It will be established by Labor Day.
- Darline Robles will join my Executive Council as the 11th member of this leadership group.
- The Equity and Inclusion Committee, led by Alan Green, will be conducting a climate survey of all faculty, staff and students. This committee provides resources for faculty members looking for help in bringing equity and inclusion into their work. I encourage you to complete this survey when you receive it.
- The Faculty Council has charged all programs to undertake thorough curriculum reviews.
As Darnell Cole so eloquently expressed, we have to pay attention to the pedagogical practices that we employ in engaging issues: “Critical conversations should lead to curricular change.”
So just as I said that we need our faculty to better reflect our student body, our curriculum needs to reflect what is going on out in the field and in society as a whole.
We have much to be proud of in the commitment that we celebrated in the mentoring awards and staff recognitions. Congratulations again to Paula Carbone, Gale Sinatra and Julie Slayton and to staff members Tara Harding and Julienne Jose Chen. To be recognized by peers and those you serve is high praise indeed.
Thank you again for helping us begin the new year with a spirit of commitment and engagement that will serve all of us today and everyday throughout the year.
Karen Symms Gallagher, PhD