In June 2016, Andrew Daire, Ph.D. was named dean of Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Education. Dr. Daire’s skills and dedication to public education mesh perfectly with VCU’s mission. I am pleased to share the message Dean Daire delivered at the welcome reception held in his honor in October.
At the School of Education, we have a responsibility as an urban, public research institution to address challenges faced by our community.
But the challenges faced by our urban schools, families and children are not average challenges. Thirty-nine percent of kids in the Richmond area live in poverty, which is more than double the average rate in Virginia. Three out of every four children in Richmond Public Schools receive a free or reduced lunch. More than 200 RPS students were homeless at some point during the 2014-15 academic year. Thirty-five of RPS’ 42 schools are Title I schools, and only 17 are fully accredited. Since 2008, K-12 public education staffing in Virginia has been reduced by 5,000 positions, while student enrollment for that time has increased by 49,000.
These challenges are not average, and so, they cannot be met with average thinking. They cannot be met with average efforts. We have to be boldly aspirational and extraordinary in our intentions, in our work, in our outcomes and in our impact. The success of Richmond Public Schools and the schools around us reflect on our success as a school of education.
VCU School of Education aims to be the leader in urban education through innovation, excellence and impact in schools, communities, families and children. To achieve this, we aim to leverage existing resources and talents among our faculty, our centers and institutes, and our relationships with agencies in the community to develop a unique and distinctive experience for School of Education students at all levels, preparing them for success in urban settings while having an impact in the community and advancing research.
This is bold, but we’re doing it. We’re doing it already. Now our aim is to take it to the next level.
If the expectation is that we are going to do extraordinary things, then we need to be an extraordinary organization with a culture that challenges and supports these efforts. Well, the School of Education here at VCU is an extraordinary organization within an extraordinary university. As dean of the VCU School of Education, I look forward us launching into a new trajectory of excellence, innovation, and impact.