Q&A with Dean Shinew

Dawn Shinew, Ph.D. assumed her new position as permanent dean in April 2016. Prior to serving as the College’s interim dean, Dr. Shinew served as the director of the School of Teaching and Learning. Since being appointed dean she has already impacted both the University and surrounding communities. In June, the dean’s office coordinated the University’s first data summit where members of the College presented academic data to high school administrators and superintendents to show academic preparedness. The dean took time out of her busy schedule to sit down with us and answer questions about her academic career and her vision for the College.


Q&A with Dean Shinew:

How have you been adjusting to your new role so far? How is it different than being a school director?
In many ways, this has been a very easy transition. I’d been serving as interim dean since October 1, 2015 and we had a lot of positive momentum going. I must admit, however, that I suspect we were all looking at each other a little differently once we knew that we were all in it together for the long haul.


During the interview process, what solidified your decision that you wanted to lead the College of Education and Human Development?

I actually talked about this in my presentation during the interview. Initially, I didn’t think I was interested in the permanent position. However, as I learned more about the faculty and programs in EDHD, I was really impressed. I attended a conference shortly before the interview and a colleague asked me how I knew I wanted to be a dean. I realized in that moment that I really wasn’t interested in any dean position, I was just interested in this position. I feel like I belong here. 


You sent an email to faculty and staff in your first week on the job. What did it say?

The most important message that I wanted to send to EDHD faculty and staff is that we are a community. Over the last year, I’ve learned a lot about what each person contributes to the College’s success. It’s important to me that all members of the EDHD community know that their work is valued and that they make a difference to our students, our programs, our reputation and our future.


We understand you are a Falcon alumna. What is it like coming back and assuming the role of Dean in the College you graduated from?

It’s funny because, as an undergraduate, I’m not sure I understood much about what the Dean actually did! I enjoy introducing myself to EDHD students and hearing about their experiences. They always tell me how much they appreciate their faculty and, while they probably don’t understand my role much better than I did as an undergraduate, I always hope they walk away knowing that I enjoyed talking with them and their experiences important to me. I’m proud to be a two-time alumna of this College and want to make sure that future graduates feel the same way.


Why is it exciting to be a part of the College of Education and Human Development right now?

Any transition in leadership is a great opportunity to rethink what we’re doing to determine whether or not it still makes sense. We have a lot of great energy right now and many people have shared ideas that can shape the future of the College. While we may not be able to do everything, each idea sparks new thinking and possibilities. This year’s Common Read is A More Beautiful Question. I’ve always liked questions and find myself asking a lot of them these days. My favorite right now is “How can we make it happen?”
 

What are your priorities during your first year as Dean?
I want us to be bold in our thinking. We have really good programs. I want us to have really great programs, and I know we have the faculty, staff and students to get us there.


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