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UI College of Education regroups following former dean's resignation

BY CASSIDY RILEY | FEBRUARY 18, 2013 5:00 AM

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One University of Iowa official says interim Dean Nicholas Colangelo has worked “tirelessly” to help the College of Education move forward after what some called a crisis last semester.

“It’s been literally my mantra that we move on [and] we move on together,” Colangelo said.

On Nov. 7, 2012, a vote of no-confidence was held against the former dean of the College of Education, Margaret Crocco. A few weeks later, Crocco was made aware of negative comments from a survey administered in the college about her job performance. The survey was intended to look into the work climate of the school. These comments were later turned over to Provost P. Barry Butler.

Quickly following these events, all members of the Faculty Advisory Committee and Staff Council for the college resigned, claiming the administration was not being transparent and prohibiting them from doing their jobs. Days later, on Dec. 10, 2012, Crocco also resigned. These events were summed up by a UI official as a “crisis” in the College of Education.

Since the start of the semester, Colangelo has worked to help the school focus on the future, he said.

“I’ve really tried to put in a lot of time with individuals face-to-face so they could hear from me in terms of where I want to move the college and how we can move together,” Colangelo said.

One of the sharpest points of contention last semester was related to the Working at Iowa survey that Faculty Advisory Committee head Volker Thomas and Education Staff Council Chairman Michael Morony wrote specifically for the education school and the comments that were left on the survey.

Butler confiscated all of the comments and refused to have them published, claiming that because they were related to the performance of Crocco, they were a personnel matter.

“Only 50 percent of the comments referred to personnel matters,” Thomas said.

Thomas said many of the comments were related to other matters in the college, such as concerns over the culture and communication and that some of the issues even predated concerns over the former dean. Colangelo decided to publish the comments that were not related to personnel issues.

“I gave this a lot of thought,” Colangelo said. “I felt that [the] comments … could give us some themes as to what are some issues in the college that we need to address. If you don’t discuss it, you’re probably not going to move on.”

Along with publishing the comments, Colangelo has worked with Thomas and Morony — who, along with other member of the Faculty Advisory Committee and Staff Council, came back to their positions after special elections were held at the beginning of the semester. He has met with both men numerous times and asked them for help implementing the college’s strategic plan for 2013-2018.

The strategic plan has been a work in progress for more than a year now and involves four priorities: ensuring student success, building knowledge and practice, facing new frontiers in the realm of education and creating better futures for Iowans.

“He feels very strongly that the implementation should come from faculty and staff,” Thomas said. 

Morony said Colangelo has done good work to reassure those inside and outside of the college that they are still working to successfully produce future educators.

“We went through almost a crisis situation and now we’ve got to move forward because of the students,” Morony said.  “We’ve got to do whatever it takes to have our students be successful. We are rebuilding. We are refocusing and we are still producing top notch graduates.”


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