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Friday June 18th

School of Education dean candidate schools crowd on why he should be dean

<p>Christopher Morphew, one of three candidates to become the School of Education’s new dean, participates in a forum on Monday.</p>
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Christopher Morphew, one of three candidates to become the School of Education’s new dean, participates in a forum on Monday.

Morphew, executive associate dean for research and innovation for the College of Education at the University of Iowa, let his humor shine in a presentation that outlined his views on schools of education and the role he’d play at UNC.

He said preparing researchers could be the future for UNC’s School of Education instead of focusing solely on preparing K-12 teachers.

“We need to know how people learn and continue to learn on both ends of the tail,” he said.

Gary Marchionini, dean of the School of Information and Library Science and chairperson of the search committee, said the committee looked over scores of applications and narrowed it down to three candidates who are extraordinary leaders.

“It’s based on their reputation, their accomplishments, their vision, and we see him as one of the people who can make a difference at Carolina,” Marchionini said.

Morphew said the declining enrollment at the School of Education means leaders need to rethink how UNC offers curricula across multiple disciplines.

“I think the future of schools of educations is on the margins,” he said.

Morphew said in his 14 hours on campus, he noticed some improvements could be made to UNC’s School of Education. He suggested that a ratio of more than 50 faculty for more than 600 students could be made more fiscally sustainable by spending less money on faculty resources.

Morphew wants to create connections with other academic departments across campus to find great potential partners.

He said he had long been impressed by the pride the state of North Carolina took in its higher education but found those attitudes had shifted in recent times.

His role as dean, he said, would be to share stories with legislators and donors to raise money, and he wasn’t afraid to go “hat-in-hand if that’s what it took.”

Lora Cohen-Vogel, a professor in the School of Education, said it strikes her that schools of education are in the space where enrollments are declining. But if she had the funding, she said she could admit three times the number of graduate students currently enrolled.

Marchionini said the campus visits will end in two weeks, and he hopes the new dean will take office in July, although that is ultimately the provost’s decision.

Morphew said he’s drawn to UNC because of its possibilities to expand.

“(UNC) presents enormous opportunities for academics and for leaders, so one of the things that’s attractive to me is this is already a highly formed school of ed, but it’s surrounded by world-class potential partners,” Morphew said.

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