School of Education

School of Education dean to step down effective January 2014 after 8 years in current position

Douglas Biklen, dean of the School of Education, announced Wednesday he will retire from his position on Jan. 31, 2014.

Biklen, who has served as dean since 2006, said he chose to step down simply because he is approaching retirement age.

“I actually thought I would retire a little earlier, but then I became dean so I ended up staying a little longer,” he said.

During his time as dean, Biklen said one of his biggest accomplishments has been making the School of Education faculty more diverse. The faculty is now 28 percent African-American and more representative of the country’s demographics, he said.

Eric Spina, vice chancellor and provost, agreed and said the faculty Biklen hired has put the school in a “tremendous position.”

“The best legacy of any dean is the faculty they leave behind,” he said. “And the faculty he has assembled is extraordinary.”

The School of Education has also become better connected and more central to SU in the past seven years, as Biklen has done an incredible job advocating for the school, Spina said.

Biklen has also taken steps to emphasize inclusive and urban education during his tenure. The School of Education has worked with Say Yes to Education, as well as other institutions in the city of Syracuse and across the country, to have a significant influence on these areas of education.

“We’ve really melded inclusive education with urban education, which is probably the most dynamic issue in public education today,” Biklen said.

Spina said he expects to meet with School of Education faculty soon to discuss the next step for the school.

Biklen is the fourth SU dean to leave his or her position in less than a year. Melvin Stith announced last April he will leave his position as dean of the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at the end of this semester. Last May, Mark Robbins stepped down as dean of the School of Architecture. On Feb. 11, Suzanne Thorin, dean of libraries and university librarian, announced she would leave SU at the end of June.

Spina said all the decisions to step down were made on an individual basis.

“There comes a time in every dean’s life where they’ve deaned enough. I don’t see it as a kind of run or anything. All these deans have served for longer than the average time,” he said, noting deans normally serve for four and a half to five years.

Robbins served about eight years as dean before taking a position as executive director of the International Center for Photography last May. Stith, Thorin and Bilken will also have each spent about eight years as deans of their respective institutions when they step down.

After his retirement, Biklen said he plans to work on several books. Though he does not plan to continue teaching, he is currently teaching a disability studies undergraduate class and said he will miss it.

“But,” Biklen said, “there are a lot of other things to do.”


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