By Jillian Poland
FSU hosted an open forum question-and-answer session with Ted Purinton, a finalist for the position of dean of education, on Tuesday, Feb. 28 in the Ecumenical Center.
A similar session was held last week with finalist David Harycki, dean of the School of Education and Counseling at Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska.
Susan Dargan is the interim dean of education while the University finds a candidate for the position.
The entire FSU community was invited to attend the forum at which Purinton was given the chance to introduce himself and field questions from the audience.
Purinton is currently dean of the Graduate School of Education at the American University in Cairo in Egypt. He went there with his family in 2011 to create an American-style college of education within the university, he said.
Purinton said he initially went to Cairo intending to stay there for a long time, but the complicated situation that arose in the years following the Arab Spring drove him to begin looking for opportunities elsewhere.
He said, “I didn’t see any severe danger at all in the next couple of years, but I did start asking myself, ‘Could I find a school of education with faculty as passionate and entrepreneurial and dedicated as the staff I had worked with?’”
The audience asked Purinton questions about diversity, alumni relations, fundraising, teachers’ unions, graduate preparedness and the future of the education field.
While explaining the importance of alumni, Purinton described his efforts to create a distinct academic identity for his graduates while chair of the Department of Educational Leadership at National Louis University in Chicago.
“My department set out on a very strategic campaign to make sure that there was a very distinct identity of our students, so that school districts felt that they knew what they were getting when they got one of our students. ... And the best way to do that, of course, and to keep that message alive, is to bring the alumni back in any way possible,” Purinton said.
He suggested holding open lectures and events that allowed alumni to return to the University and continue to expand their knowledge after graduation.
He hopes to create an identity for education graduates at FSU so employers will “be able to trust that when a Framingham graduate is in the application pile, if they’re looking for a teacher who has certain characteristics, they go to the top.”
He said, “I really feel strongly ... that this is a school that is moving forward with a lot of excitement and passion and progress, and it’s a place where I know I can fit well.”