Dean’s Speech

View the PowerPoint Slides of the Dean’s Kick-Off speech (PDF Format)

2011 Rossier School Kick-Off
Gallagher Remarks
August 16, 2011

Today we Kick Off not only the new school year but a focus on the next decade for Rossier. I am eager for this discussion to begin about what will drive the Rossier School’s record of accomplishment.

We all know that the educational environment is changing rapidly – and that the status quo in K-12 schools, universities, and Schools of Education does not work. All of us care deeply about making a positive impact through our work, so it is imperative that we take notice of and respond to these changes as we did in 2006-07 when we developed and began to implement or current 5 year strategic plan.

For those of you who are new to the school, our mission is strengthening urban education locally, nationally and globally. Our five-page strategic plan includes fuller descriptions of our vision, our guiding values, and the 4 goals with accompanying strategies for accomplishing the goals. We have been successful and then some in achieving our goals, working together to use data to drive decisions, using shared governance and expecting a high touch service orientation. In reading our current plan, I see the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit that characterizes our programs in Rossier, and how these two attributes drive the impactful work of our research centers and degree programs. Our past innovations like the EdD and our current faculty scholarship give me confidence and inspiration about Rossier’s future. By now, all of you should know about the upcoming Rossier Strategic Thinking Week, which takes place September 19th through 24th.

I would like to thank the planning committee that you see here, which has taken on the complex task of organizing the week to achieve the outcomes that will guide our future work. We spent time in June and yesterday, designing the activities for STW. Joining us as facilitators, as they have in past planning endeavers, are Nancy Aronson and Rosi Barbeau. Graphic designer Greg Gollaher is also here.

During Strategic Thinking Week, our challenge is to generate ideas and our vision of what an undisputed impactful school of education will look like in 2020, a School of Education that is innovative, transformative, leveraging our distinctiveness to be responsive to changes, and committed to and driven by BIG IDEAS.

The Rossier School has three transformative paths that constitute a foundation for our continued success.


  • preparing and developing our graduates to be effective educational leaders,
  • conducting research that leads to innovative, efficacious and just solutions to problems of educational practice, and
  • affiliating with diverse partners in the preschool through graduate school education community through mutually beneficial partnerships.

These three pathways of activity and proven accomplishment… Graduates, Research, and Partnerships… will be the basis of new innovations in the future.

Last March, as a result of a creative brainstorming session, Rossier’s Board of Councilors challenged us to identify our next “Moonshot”. That is, what was our next big idea, comparable to the creation and implementation of the EdD and the MAT. You can see here in this slide some of the work of the Board’s brainstorming process. I show it not to imply that the BOC identified what our ideas should be, but to acknowledge the Board’s support for or next big ideas. The Board has committed to helping us find the resources to make the next Moonshot a reality. This strategic thinking process started at that Board retreat, continues today with our Kick-Off, and will continue into the official Strategic Thinking Week and beyond into the spring.

Let me give you one example of a big idea: Probably few of you remember the 1950s and that “Made in Japan” meant “cheap, junky, poor quality products.” In 1952, SONY decided they would try to make a “pocketable” radio — that could fit in a shirt pocket. Radios had to date needed vacuum tubes; so minimizing them seemed impossible. To build it required long periods of painstaking trial and error and innovative thinking because no company had applied transistor technology to a consumer product before. Using transistors for radios was unheard of — they were only for defense purposes. And who would be able to afford it? SONY engineers reveled in the idea of doing something deemed by outsiders as foolhardy for such a small company. But they succeeded and created a quality product that became pervasive and affordable worldwide and changed the perception of SONY and of Japanese products. Rossier has the track record of defining and implementing game changing moonshots. The Board of Councelors recognized the EdD and the MAT. However, within the context of the upcoming capital campaign we need to look forward, not backwards.

So how do we start today? We have three outcomes to come from our work this morning:

  1. To begin to develop a shared knowledge base of the current challenges in this environment for schools of education
  2. To share an understanding of the outcomes for Rossier’s upcoming strategic thinking week and the roles we will each play
  3. To return to our work with shared enthusiasm and confidence in Rossier’s ability to have real impact on educational policy and practices.

The good news is that Rossier has a history of success in innovation. We have proven that we are change agents, and that we respond to what education needs with work that has real impact on the field. We began it a decade ago with our FUTURES Conference. Five years later, we developed a strategic plan which is current to this academic year. We set some bold goals — and many successes/achievements came from them. Later this fall we will post to our website a summative document detailing our accomplishments from this current plan. So let’s take a look at the differences between 2000 and 2010 in terms of programs.

Slide #18
We realized that in order to have the kind of mission impact we wanted, we needed to focus our efforts and resources more strategically. So a few things to take away from this slide, in addition to our more than doubling our student body and increasing our faculty number substantially, include reducing our number of degree offerings and eliminating the undergraduate degree.

  • We separated our Ed.D. program from our Ph.D. program
  • We built support mechanisms – DSC, Career Center
  • We designed thematic dissertation groups and had students work with schools and districts so this research had immediate practical applications.

The result is that Rossier’s Ed.D. program now has nearly an 80% completion rate in 3 years and is seen as a model by the Carnegie Foundation for other Schools of Education. Another accomplishment was to completely overhaul teacher preparation; by moving away from our undergraduate degree and taking our MAT program online with 2Tor, a for profit company.

The results are that we now have

  • 1600 students enrolled, 20 times the number two years ago.
  • We have partnerships in 700 districts and 1400 schools across the country.
  • We have nearly 250 separate student groups

In the area of research productivity, we have been very successful. In 2001, our school’s research expenditures totaled $3.4 million. For 2009-2010, we reached $17.5 million. And not only our research centers have flourished, but we have 16 Rossier faculty who are not directly affiliated with a center but who are managing external funding. These are great success stories. But just in this last 24 months, the educational environment has changed dramatically, and most likely permanently.

Everything we know about public education is being challenged. Here’s just a snapshot of the education world today:

There are 3.3 million teachers in public schools – the largest occupational category and yet we have lost 250,000 jobs in the last 18 months according to the USDOE. This loss translate to 12,000 in California. The headlines about lay-offs and pink slips has had a different effect on educators and potential educators – they are not coming back to school, to ed schools, as they have in the past. Every dean of ed has seen a drop in enrollments and we are no different. Without the [email protected], which recruits students in 44 states and 24 countries, we would be in jeopardy. So the MAT is assisting us in adjusting to a new status quo – fewer traditional students coming to us. Also California’s fiscal crisis has so severely damaged the pipeline for recruiting and training new teachers that the quality of the teacher workforce is likely to be at risk for many years to come. So the status quo is unsustainable and we are not likely to go back to the “good old days” either.

Last Friday I saw in the LA times, a repor issued stating the results of the new student tracking system. Statewide, about 3.5% of 8th graders left school and didn’t return for ninth grade. That means over 17,000 adolescents are left to come up with another plan. Statewide 18.2% of all California students drop out. Enrollment at for-profit colleges has shot-up up and the University of Phoenix has 400,000 students.

The traditional model of college is changing, as a result of such forces as for-profit colleges. Students want convenience and good enough degrees that will help them get jobs. Some argue that the model of the full-time residential campus is getting to too expensive. The conversion to more convenience for the students will multiply over the next decade. Students will increasingly expect access to classes from cellular phones and other portable devises. Last, probably by 2020, minority student enrollments will outnumber white non-hispanic student numbers on college campuses. The average age of students will continue to increase.

  • Philanthrophic money is going to non-traditional teacher preparation programs: for instance Teach for America raised $200 million in 2010 alone, compared to the largest gift to any School of Education ever which was 10% of that. We also know four out of 10 teachers hired since 2005 entered teaching through non-traditional programs.
  • Money is also coming from non-traditional providers to supply leaders and teacher development. For example, the Broad Superintendents Academy is training corporate CEOs, retired military personnel and other leaders to be school superintendents. While this is not a big trends right now, there is a bill before Congress to allow not university-based providers to grant masters level credential.

Who we are as a School of Education is being directly challenged, as you can see from this quote from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. So many policymakers and influential leaders place no value on our work. Can we as the Rossier School and as a school at USC overcome this? Maybe not, because the latest Gallup Poll shows 70 percent of the respondents agreeing that teaching well is a result of natural talent, not something that can be taught in colleges and universities.

How will we respond to these changes and this shifting of the educational environment? In order to change the public mindset about schools of education and their value, we need boldness, innovation and collaboration. We need to see the environment as providing an opportunity to distinguish ourselves as an innovation school. As we did in 2001, we will build on our assets – our people.


  • We have an entrepreneurial spirit.
  • We embrace unlikely partnerships.
  • We have the proven ability to be innovative; to set bold goals and make them happen.
  • We have a diverse faculty – in multiple meanings of that term – and a rich cross-section of expertise in our faculty. In fact, close to 5 decades separates the youngest members of our Rossier faculty from the most senior. This characteristic is important to how and what we do and our next speaker can help us unpack this situation.
  • We are courageous – asking a 3rd party organization (WestEd) to evaluate 2 of our programs and tell us among other things the impact of those programs and our graduates

Strategic Thinking Week is the next big event to move our planning forward.It will entail four half days brainstorming and idea generating sessions for the faculty members from each of the school’s four Concentration. These meetings will serve as the foundation for the work of the Integration Meeting, which is Friday and half day Saturday. That meeting will include faculty representatives as well as a diverse set of external stakeholders. They will use the information from the Concentration Meetings as springboards for generating, exploring and beginning to develop our bold ideas for the future of Rossier. We will follow Strategic Thinking Week with the Strategic Planning Process to develop and prioritize our bold ideas. There will be multiple opportunities for you to give input on our new Strategic Plan as we build it. The actual strategic plan will be finalized by May 2012.

All of you will contribute to this critical process. And we are starting today – albeit at a low tech level. Going forward, we will have a dedicated web site where people can post ideas and comments, and give us feedback.

I want to stress that your involvement in this process is not only welcomed, it is absolutely critical. In your folder, you’ll find an index card. Please fill out both sides of the card by answering the following questions: “What is Rossier’s most significant accomplishment in the last 10 years?” and “Imagine in 10 years: what will Rossier’s most significant achievement be?”

Please feel free to add your name if you choose. Before we move on to our guest speaker, I’d like to share a two minute video clip which I think illustrates why we do what we do and why it is so important that the Rossier School of Education set a bold course and Succeed.

Students like Daisy are why we do this. Why we work preparing great teachers and principals and counselors and leaders, and why we strive to improve college access and success rates. I have never been more convinced about the efficacy and urgency for our future work and its impact on urban education than I am today.

Thank you.

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