Q&A

A chat with Dean Rosenblith

UBNOW STAFF

Published November 14, 2018

Portrait of Suzanne Rosenblith, dean of the Graduate School of Education.

As part of a new series of interviews with UB’s deans, UBNow sat down with Suzanne Rosenblith, dean of the Graduate School of Education, to learn more about the school’s strategic priorities, particularly its focus on teacher education, evidence-based research and community partnerships.

You recently completed your first year as dean after serving as professor of educational foundations at Clemson University. How have you enjoyed your time at UB and in Western New York?

My family and I absolutely love Western New York. We live in the city and have come to really love all that it has to offer. Buffalo has all of the affordances that one would expect in an urban environment, but the people remind me a lot of those I encountered during my graduate studies in the Midwest.

UB has been a really great fit for me. The campus is vibrant and exciting. The faculty and staff in the Graduate School of Education are exceptional and make coming to work every day truly a joy. The administration is incredibly supportive, thoughtful and committed to UB and also to the mission of the Graduate School of Education.

What new strategic directions are you implementing at the Graduate School of Education?

The Graduate School of Education has a long and impressive history within the educational research community. My job is to rebuild and extend our reputation and visibility among the research community while simultaneously working to strengthen our commitment to increasing opportunities for individuals and communities in the surrounding areas. I see these efforts as complementary in that I believe strongly that the way to improve educational outcomes for individuals and communities is by implementing research-based practices.

To that end, we will invest in programs, projects and initiatives that allow our faculty to be on the cutting edge of their disciplines while supporting neighboring communities. This can be seen in our innovative approach to teacher education: teacher residencies, our partnership with Buffalo’s BUILD community school, a revision to our principal preparation, LIFTS program, and development of a research and teaching domain around Integrative Learning Sciences, which will bring the cognitive, computational and sociocultural study of learning environments and technology to the forefront.

We are also very focused and committed to being a model unit for inclusive excellence and have invested time, personnel and other resources into these efforts. Ensuring that students, staff and faculty feel valued and included in GSE is essential to who we are.

Under your leadership, the Graduate School of Education has created new partnerships with the Buffalo Public Schools. What is the purpose of these partnerships and what do you hope to accomplish together?

I am really proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in the short time I’ve been at UB. I believe it is the responsibility of a school of education at a research-intensive university to impact, inform and support the communities in which we engage. Understanding what works, for whom, and under what conditions is central to improving educational outcomes and this is indeed of paramount importance if we want students in the Buffalo Public Schools to have more opportunity to shape their futures. However, the only way to increase opportunities for students is if we engage in a true, meaningful and, hopefully, lasting partnership with the Buffalo Public schools. So far, we’ve been able to work together well, whether it is supporting their efforts to improve English language literacy among elementary ENL (English as a new language) students, our work helping to turn around BUILD community school, or our recent partnership in teacher residency that aims to recruit and retain and diversify the teaching profession. We are jointly committed to bringing evidence-based practices, ideas and initiatives to bear on the schools. Importantly, what we learn from these partnerships can also impact the larger field of education.

The school has been actively marketing its UB Teach combined degree program. Can you explain what the program is and how it’s been received by potential students?

I am really excited about our combined bachelor’s to master’s program. UB Teach is a streamlined pipeline for undergraduate students majoring in a certifiable content area (e.g. mathematics, biology, English). It is an opportunity for students who wish to teach to move directly from their undergraduate disciplinary degree into an initial and professional teaching program. This is really beneficial for students because they will be extremely well-prepared in their content area; they will be able to shed one year from what it would typically take to earn a master’s degree; and they will earn their professional certification, which is something required of all teachers in New York State within five years of their initial certification.

Looking 10 years down the road, what do you envision for the Graduate School of Education and what kind of changes do you see for teachers and public education?

I see the Graduate School of Education as a leader among research-intensive schools and colleges of education. I see us on the forefront and as leading innovators in several fields, including teacher and leader preparation. I also see us as a model for what a community of scholars can look like. I see us preparing researchers who, in turn, become leaders in educational research and policy. I see us setting the standard for what preparation programs ought to look like. I see the Graduate School of Education as the place others want to study and emulate because of our successful teaching and research efforts.