By Bill London

College of Education

Washington State University’s College of Education received high recognition recently as it was selected as a partner in the Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate. The honor is especially note-worthy in that it was the only college selected from the Pacific Northwest, with company including Ohio State and Michigan State.

The Carnegie Foundation chose 10 colleges or departments of education nationwide to participate in this five-year, research-and-action project aimed at improving doctoral education. The project will link these innovative institutions, support and study experimentation in doctoral programs, and help identify and create model doctoral programs. In addition, the foundation selected 22 other partner institutions (none from the Pacific Northwest) in the fields of chemistry, English and mathematics as part of this national initiative.

The selection for this honor was based upon a detailed proposal created by a group of 15 faculty from WSU’s College of Education. In Carnegie terminology, this group became the Leadership Team. This faculty team met weekly for more than two months to construct a plan that built upon the ongoing discussions in the college about the future of graduate education.

To serve as a liaison between Carnegie and the college during the startup phase, the Leadership Team chose five members to form an initial steering committee: Todd Johnson and Barbara Gupta from the Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling Psychology, and Anne Campbell, Michael Hayes and Gary Davis from the Department of Teaching and Learning.

Davis explained that participation with educational powerhouses like Ohio State and Michigan State in the Carnegie Initiative is appropriate for WSU, given the programmatic quality and strong collegial bonds he has experienced at the College of Education. He has held faculty positions at five universities in Europe, Australia and the United States as well as visiting appointments at four others, and reports that his current college is “strato-spherically different.”

“This college is absolutely better than anywhere else I have been. There is a very positive feeling. People are here on weekends. They have something to be proud of.”

When asked about the impact of joining the Carnegie Initiative, Davis replied: “This leap-frogs us to a position of national prominence.”

“This is very significant for our college,” agreed Judy Mitchell, dean of the college. “The selection by the Carnegie Initiative is a recognition of the quality of our faculty and programs, and it is also an acknowledgment of our vision of what our doctorate will become. We’ll be working with some of the most respected educational institutions in the U.S. to share ideas and think about our common problems and solutions. Our work through this initiative will impact all teaching, since we prepare students to be teachers and to be teachers of teachers.

“We are the stewards of our discipline,” Mitchell continued. “The discipline of education has been changing very rapidly, especially at the K – 12 level. Our undergraduate teacher preparation programs have been changing significantly in response. And now, we are beginning to look at our graduate programs. With the support of the Carnegie Initiative, we will be at the forefront of that discussion nationwide.”

Mitchell expects additional significant impact for WSU in growing reputation, increasing numbers of better-prepared graduate students, and attracting even more outstanding faculty.

Howard Grimes, dean of the Graduate School, echoed Mitchell’s assessment.

“The state and regional impact of this initiative cannot be underestimated. WSU stands to become the institution in the Pacific Northwest where the best educators acquire the best training and graduate degrees in education,” he said.

According to President V. Lane Rawlins, “ I am proud that our education college is joining such an elite group of universities in this exciting intellectual enterprise of invigorating and enriching doctoral education. This national initiative will benefit both WSU and our state as our doctoral graduates in turn influence the education of countless students in our elementary and secondary schools.”

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching was founded by American entrepreneur Andrew Carnegie in 1905 and chartered by an act of Congress in 1906. The Foundation, headquartered in Menlo Park, Calif., is an independent policy and research center with a mission of improving educational policy and practice. For more information about the initiative, see www.carnegiefoundation.org.