SOE News

Dean McDiarmid at the helm

Photo of Bill McDiarmid

Bill McDiarmid addresses the faculty on Jan. 28, 2009.

A few weeks after arriving on campus as the 12th dean of the School of Education, Bill McDiarmid talked with The Carolina Slate Online about his return to Carolina, his vision for the School and his goals as the new dean. Here are some highlights of those comments. 

Returning to Carolina

“I’m delighted to be back at Carolina. However corny it sounds, most of us who are fortunate enough to graduate from here never lose our love for the institution. The faculty and fellow students whom I was privileged to meet and learn from and the hard-earned UNC values of open inquiry and debate set me, as a young man, on a rich intellectual and social journey. And, despite the budget cuts, this moment could not be more propitious for the School of Education with a UNC President and a UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor and Provost who are strong supporters and advocates of our activities and mission.”

The School of Education community

“Our School of Education community is exemplified by the kind of mutual respect that we want our students to have for their students—a valuing of the contributions that everyone has to make, open inquiry and discussion, a sense of purpose and a shared view of the future of our children. Those are hallmarks of our School and values that we constantly uphold.”

Responsibilities of the School of Education

“As part of a public, research-extensive University, the School of Education has three responsibilities:

  • to produce scholarship that informs educators, policymakers and the public across the state and nation;
  • to mount exemplary educator preparation programs responsive to the needs of schools, our youth, their families and communities as well as to prepare the next generation of educational scholars; and
  • to collaborate with P-12 educators, communities, state agencies, business people, and others to improve opportunities to learn for every one of our children, especially those historically under-served.

“My goal is to make sure we have the focus, support structures, and resources we need to meet the School’s responsibilities.” 

Focus of our work

“More than ever before, I believe we need to be thinking about how we bring our resources to bear on the schools and children that face the greatest challenges. We have a real duty to address the issues and circumstances that children and families in poverty face. We have a duty to educate educators who are prepared to help students from a diversity of language, cultural and social class backgrounds. We know that’s a huge challenge. We know that if we look at the data, there are children out there who aren’t being served well by the educators we are preparing, despite our best efforts. More than ever, we need to marshal our collective resources to address these challenges.”

Building a continuum of support for educators

“To meet the School’s responsibilities requires, among other things, a coherent system of support for educators that spans from pre-service education through professional preparation into the early years in the classroom and through to National Board certification. Everyone knows the statistics around the number of teachers who leave the profession within the first five years of graduating from their preparation program. So the question is, how do we work with our colleagues in the P-12 world and in the Department of Public Instruction as well as our colleagues within the UNC system to build the kind of support structures needed to make teachers more effective earlier in their careers and keep them in the classrooms? Such a support system entails intensive collaboration and cooperation among the arts and sciences, education and P-12 schools.”  

Engagement with partners and policymakers

“To meet our responsibilities, we must capitalize on the collective knowledge and other resources of our colleagues in arts and sciences, P-12 schools, and at other UNC campuses as well as families and people in the business and state government arenas. All of these people bring an enormous amount of wisdom and knowledge to the table as we think about what educators need to know in order to be successful in classrooms and in schools. In addition, we need to have research programs that focus on the most urgent issues that students and their families as well as educators are facing. We need to have regular conversations with policymakers to learn what kind of research would help them make informed decisions. And we need to have effective vehicles for communicating what we’re learning.”    

Collecting and using evidence

“To continuously improve our programs, we must also nurture a culture that systematically collects and analyzes various evidence of our influence on our students, educators, schools and communities. We need to build a system in which our programs are continuously improving. We need to know what kinds of evidence we need, for what purposes. And we need to put structures in place that will allow us to use that data.” 

Moving forward together

“Finally, our School community needs to stay focused on our students, scholarship and outreach, recognizing that each of us is equally critical to making a difference for the students and families of North Carolina. To repeat Al Gore’s invocation of an African proverb: ‘If you wish to go fast, go alone. If you wish to go far, go with others.’”