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Message from the Dean: September 2021

Dear SOE Billiken Alums,

Our campus happily welcomed our students back last month to start the Fall 2021 semester. We are thrilled to be offering in-person classes safely to our students with a vaccination of roughly 98% of our SLU community. While we are not yet exactly where we want to be, we are moving in the right direction and it is an absolute joy to be back in community this fall.

And there is much to celebrate as we return to campus. Thanks in large part to our new “Grow Your Own” scholarship program, which was developed to bring local students to our School of Education and then launch them right back into the St. Louis teacher pipeline in four years, our entering class of undergraduates is the largest class in many years and our most diverse class ever!  

Over the summer, as we prepared to welcome our newest graduate students and undergraduates, we also had the opportunity to engage in some typical academic celebrations that we missed during the prior year, such as commencement and convocation. Check out this site to view our live commencement activities celebrating our 2021 graduates on May 18, 2021.

Finally, since we are still in the early weeks of the academic year, there is still time to take a look at the live video from the 2021 New Student Convocation and Family Welcome recorded on August 21, 2021. In this wonderful SLU tradition, new students and families are welcomed by various members of the SLU community. I have enjoyed this event as both a new parent and as a dean!

In the midst of all this optimism, our School and campus have also faced some difficulties over the past few months. All of us at SLU lost a tremendous campus leader and colleague in June when Dr. Jonathan C. Smith suddenly passed away. Many across the campus and the city gathered in Chaifetz Arena to say goodbye and memorialize our dear friend in a very moving and somber, yet also lively, live-streamed service at the end of June.

And finally, our School of Education community suffered a loss as our colleague Dr. Elizabeth Lea Winfrey Shindel passed away on August 31. On Tuesday, September 7, many members of the SOE gathered in O’Fallon, IL for a celebration of the life of our colleague and friend, Beth Shindel. Throughout this month, we have heard from so many students praising Beth’s generosity, kindness, persistence, and compassion. We know that Beth had such a positive impact on so many of us. She will be dearly missed.

On to the newsletter … we start by celebrating our students and highlight some of our excellent students who received outstanding student awards at our graduation ceremony this May. Congratulations to Ella, Colleen, Gwen, Sherdia, and Regina for your recognition as outstanding 2021 graduates of our School of Education! This fall, we will be home to five new faculty in the School of Education; we are happy to tell their story here and are thrilled to welcome, Karen, Jon, Christa, Kelly, and Fr. Caruso to our community! Of course, our current faculty are also doing exciting work; take a minute to read about the good work of Dr. Takako Nomi, an Associate Professor in Education Policy, examining the critical connection between student success in algebra and college attainment. Our final story in this edition is based on an interview with two Missouri attorneys who venture regularly into SLU classrooms to teach School Law to aspiring school leaders in Catholic and public schools.  

As the world begins to re-open, we look forward to more opportunities to interact with our Billiken alumni. If any of you will be venturing to campus for SLU Homecoming and Family Weekend later on this September (24-26), we will be looking out for you!

Best wishes,

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