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WNMU College of Education Dean candidate Lora Bailey interviewed

Western New Mexico University, which is in a transition to five colleges—Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, Health and Human Services, and Community College—is also in the process of interviewing deans for the various colleges.

On Jan. 14, an open forum to hear from Dr. Lora Bailey, a candidate for the dean of the College of Education, was held.

She, who has a Ph.D. from Auburn University, has recently served as Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs at Lane College, as a dean of the College of Education at Brenau University, and is serving as the Tennessee Race to the Top (RTTT)/Strengthening Instruction in Tennessee’s Elementary Schools in Mathematics (SITES-M) Consultant.

"I looked at the job description for WNMU College of Education Dean and will present what I believe fits the qualifications and experience required," Bailey said.
How her experience will help with accredited programs was one of the questions. "Where I was serving, the school had critical needs that I helped fix," Bailey said. "It is critically important to work with the university colleges outside the College of Education."

She said she is aware of WNMU's early childhood education programs. "It is wonderful that it is as training site," she said. "The downside is that it is not a professional school."

Bailey touted her longstanding leadership in international accrediting and policy bodies. "Now I am a participant in the policy bodies. I serve as research chair for the Association for Childhood Education International."

She also said she has practiced collaborative leadership as a dean and administrator across multiple degree levels from Associates to Masters degrees.

"With my experience, WNMU can look forward to strengthening your online programs in terms of enrollment," Bailey said. "I talked to Dr. Shepard this morning and he said he wants 5,000 students. I said you have the infrastructure."

She suggested increasing graduate programs online. "It's about marketing. It would be a way for teachers to attain a Masters."

"When the college is looking at growing, you passed the (National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education) accreditation with no stipulations, so you have a core of excellence," Bailey said. "Think about Ed.S, Ed.D, and M.Ed as points of growth."

She said when she was at Brenau University, in several locations in Georgia, the school had live-in weekend programs. "You need to do a market analysis and think about ways to increase student growth."

"I have expert multitasking skills," Bailey said. "I have served on committees. I am critically in tune with your desires for your next leader. For the 21st Century, your students need 21st Century learning environments.

"It's not about what we don't have or have, but what we want for best practices," Bailey said. "When you talk about 21st Century learners, they are digitally inclined, but many schools don't have the digital infrastructure. That's where grant writing comes in. You want equipment in the pre-service labs that are the same as are in the local schools."

She said she thrives best where "there is little. I come from a very poor city."

Bailey talked about her experience in course offerings and instruction, whether it was online, instructional TV or face-to-face courses. "WNMU needs to be open for access to students who are maybe not in the state."

She said she has been involved in designing re-assessment programs. "When I arrived at my little institution, they did not have a professional educator program. I helped develop and make changes for the NCATE and Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation program. I also advocated for marginal budget increases for the College of Education. Make sure your budget is similar to other professional programs."

At the University of Louisville, personnel had to complete a mandatory redesign of the programs. "I was appointed to the Kentucky Unit Assessment Board."

She said being named a Holmes Scholar while she was working on her Ph.D. at Auburn University opened many doors to mentors, so that when she finished, she had a job.

A fellowship in Richland County, S. C., was a contrast in school districts, with District 1 being poor and District 2 having more income and opportunities.

"I started out with parents saying: 'My kid's not a mathematician,'" Bailey said. "I was talking to the parent who didn't have a high school education. I worked with them to give them the 'Aha!' moment. After four years, I did a workshop with these parents doing the training. It showed me that, no matter what deficits the person has, they also have assets. You have to empower them. I taught them to look at parent involvement in a different way."

At Auburn, she said, there was no clear divide between the university and the local schools. "You need to bring the schools in as experts to the university."

She cited ways she has advocated for faculty, students, staff and College of Education operations "to assure you at WNMU continue your excellent programs," including peer-reviewed training sessions. She also encouraged "hooking the students in before they finish high school."

An audience member asked her about her educational leadership.

"I had concerns that we would meet Kentucky standards," Bailey said. "I had to address the state's concerns that students receiving degrees were matched with the practitioner side. It was the same in Georgia."

She said she had developed an early childhood education leadership program. "I just had to transfer it online."

A questioner pointed out that WNMU has evening and weekend courses at the Gallup campus, but in Silver City the campus does not have specific evening and weekend courses. "Now they are online."

"Anything I think about has to be a collaborative process," Bailey said. "Ask the students what they want and what disciplines. It's always best to start with pilot programs where there is the strongest representation."  

Another audience member asked about Bailey's experience in the shared governance model.

Educating people about what shared governance is should be first, Bailey said. "Then there should be buy-in and agreement that shared governance is wanted, but every university is a unique culture. Make sure people understand their roles. I have seen shared governance work and empower people."

A questioner asked Bailey about her research.

"One of my latest articles was with a doctoral candidate," Bailey said. "She had the notion that schools that serve the poor are schools that are poorly run and students weren't interested in learning."

Bailey explained that the student had to research the strengths of a culturally diverse classroom. "When she put her own research lens on the issue, it opened her eyes. I told her she had to publish it. She realized that the classroom style has to be what is appropriate for the members of the class."

"My research over the past 12 years has been on early childhood mathematics and what a teacher must know to maximize outcomes," Bailey said. "Teachers need to know how to use the appropriate style and have a lot of family engagement and empower families to support and nurture their children."

Another audience member asked about Bailey's collaboration on the international level.

"It has mostly been in early childhood programs," Bailey replied. "For instance, what are the best practices that work globally, where they are pedagogically relevant no matter where you are. Some are looking at development global diversified standards."

A member of the Education Department said the entity has been working on a doctorate program for rural and diversified students, depending on serving what students with what courses.

"Any decision I make is research based," Bailey said. "In the rural environment, it's mostly around access and networking. I would support rural access to services that are not otherwise available. Maybe it's time to think about an EdS, and EdD and later a Ph.D. program."

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