A Letter from the Dean
As I enter the second half of my final semester as dean of the School of Education and Human Development, I am especially grateful for the opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the ways your steadfast support and unwavering partnership during my tenure. When I consider all we have accomplished these last fourteen years and all that is yet to come, I am inspired by the collective effort of so many faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors and friends.
This past year again brought a number of notable accomplishments worth celebrating. In the fall, our Kinesiology colleagues moved into beautiful space on the third floor of the new Student Health and Wellness Center on Grounds. We are so grateful for Amy Warner and Steve Kosowsky, whose generosity was essential to creating this remarkable space. Relocating from Memorial Gym, the new building brings together Kinesiology’s classrooms and laboratories, all of which are designed specifically for the needs of our faculty and students.
I am delighted to share that we are up two spots in the latest U.S. News and World Report rankings, coming in at No. 17. Eight of our academic programs also earned individual rankings, four in the top ten. Our high-quality online programs jumped to No. 8 in the online U.S. News rankings. At SEHD, faculty excellence, community-driven learning experiences for our students, and supports that promote student engagement combine to create one of the best online learning programs in the country. Our individual online programs also continue to see high rankings, with four of those landing in the top ten as well.
We continued to strengthen our leadership in areas of equity and inclusion across Grounds and within SEHD. This year, we launched a new series, Centering Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Higher Education, that brought to SEHD several scholars who work at the intersection of DEI and higher education. Our students are also leading in these efforts, launching the UVA-wide First-Generation Graduate Student Coalition, as well as the Black Scholars in Education and Human Development Writing Group. And I cannot miss the opportunity to share that Robert Berry, our Associate Dean for diversity, equity and inclusion, was named to the National Academy of Education this year—a truly remarkable achievement.
As I begin the process of concluding my term as dean and my attention shifts to the school’s future, I am inspired by the level of innovation present across the school and the commitment to impact. In just example, with what began as a small experiment with new technology, our faculty and students are now national leaders in the use of simulation in professional preparation. From pre-service teachers sharpening their instructional, family engagement and assessment skills; to education leaders practicing difficult conversations; to undergraduates learning enhanced mentoring skills; our faculty continue to think creatively about how to leverage technology to better prepare our students for their professions. This is just one illustration of how imagination and innovation become impact. I am truly excited to see what follows.
Finally, I cannot sign off before once again saying thank you. When I first came to this school in 1986, I knew it’s extended community was something special. Having now served as dean for nearly 15 years, I have been afforded the opportunity to engage closely with our alumni, donors, and friends. You have been a steady presence, supporting our efforts financially, as volunteers, and as partners in the field. It is not an exaggeration that we could not do the work we do without you. I am deeply grateful for your friendship and commitment to our mission.
It has been an honor to lead this incredible community. I am humbled and grateful.
DR. ROBERT C. PIANTA
DEAN, BATTEN BICENTENNIAL PROFESSOR OF EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION, SCHOOL OF EDUCATION AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT