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Message from the Dean: Spring 2020

Dear SOE Billiken Alums, 

They say that you never really know someone until you see them in a time of crisis. I certainly believe this old adage applies to Saint Louis University today. The global coronavirus pandemic has revealed the true character of the Saint Louis University community, and it is no exaggeration to say that I have been inspired by the response of our community to this unprecedented crisis. Our response has been guided by our mission – Higher Purpose Greater Good – and by our laser focus on the health of our community and the academic progress of our students.  Our leadership has worked tirelessly and has never wavered in our commitment to our Jesuit mission; our faculty and staff have been industrious and persistent; and our students have been flexible and generous.

For these reasons, I feel incredibly fortunate to be part of the Saint Louis University community. Of course, one primary reason that SLU is special is our commitment to serving our community according to the spirituality of St. Ignatius. We can certainly see this in the current crisis, where members of our SLU community are doing what we can to support those who are suffering.

Similarly, just before the pandemic reached the US, I had the privilege of participating in the Ignatian Colleagues Program.  As part of this program, along with several colleagues from other Jesuit Universities across the country, I spent a week in an Ignatian Immersion trip at the border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.   I am grateful that my work at SLU affords me the opportunity to spend time with those facing challenges far greater than I have ever imagined and to reflect deeply on my obligation to work to address injustices in our community and around the world. I am also grateful that my professional home is the School of Education, where our shared mission is to engage in our community to support the poor, the marginalized, and those seeking justice. Although I should not have needed a reminder, this trip was a reminder to me that I am fortunate to have meaningful work and it is my responsibility to employ my privilege to work on behalf of our community with greater energy and vigor.

Thanks to all School of Education alumni who engage in this important work each and every day!

While nearly all our current energy is being spent on strategies to serve our students in the face of the coronavirus, we shouldn’t forget all the exciting ongoing activities of the School of Education, some of which are highlighted in this edition of the newsletter.

First, we are excited to announce the creation of a new degree option—the Master of Arts in Education Principles and Practices.  The program is designed to provide individuals with the tools necessary to improve in their everyday work with youth, communicate research-based best practices to diverse audiences, and collaborate with local stakeholders to work for change.  Our redesigned program is more affordable than ever ($585 per credit hour!), more relevant to current needs in the classroom, and more flexible in terms of coursework and specialization options. The same areas of specialization that can be pursued as part of the master’s degree are also offered as stand-alone certificates, allowing  teachers who already hold master’s degrees to take advantage of additional focused professional learning opportunities here at SLU. 

Next, we highlight Retha Meier, Ph.D., a professor in the Saint Louis University School of Education.  She has been teaching at Saint Louis University for over 25 years and her research, which spans the fields of both education and biology, is more relevant than ever.  She enthusiastically continues to encourage her students to follow their passion in science education.

Finally, we also highlight students who traveled to Nashville, TN to participate in the Annual Conference of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), along with School of Education early childhood and early childhood special education faculty.  The students had the opportunity to connect with both their peers and some of the most prominent leaders in the field.

As I conclude this note to you, I am thinking about a day in late February when so many members of our SLU community came together for the 100th birthday celebration for SLU School of Education alumna Mary Bruemmer. Listening to all the wonderful testimonials of Mary’s long career at SLU reinforced to me what a special place this is!
Please let us know if there are ways we can support you better or communicate with you more effectively. Please stay safe … and we hope to see you on campus soon!

Best wishes,
Gary W. Ritter, Ph.D.
Dean, School of Education