The Gevirtz School is excited to welcome its new dean, Dr. Jeffrey F. Milem, who will start at UC Santa Barbara on July 1. Milem comes to UCSB from the University of Arizona’s College of Education, where he was the Ernest W. McFarland Distinguished Professor and served as Director of the Arizona Medical Education Research Institute. The GGSE asked Dr. Milem a few questions to help introduce him to our alumni via this newsletter.
GGSE: What most attracted you to the Dean position at the Gevirtz School?
Dr. Milem: There were several things that attracted me to the GGSE. First, the school has great faculty, staff, and students who do really important work and I am excited to become a part of that. Second, I was drawn to the fact that UCSB is the only AAU institution that is also a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). I believe that we can have an important role in providing leadership to our peer institutions regarding the conditions and factors that stimulate the learning and development of Latinos/as. Finally, GGSE is part of the greatest public higher education system in the world. Who wouldn’t want to be part of such a vibrant and exciting place?
GGSE: What do you see as the greatest challenges for schools of education at this time?
Dr. Milem: Schools of education across the country face numerous challenges. This is especially true at public institutions. State and federal support for public higher education has diminished considerably over the past few decades, which has made it increasingly difficult to do our work effectively. Hence, education schools are being asked to do more with fewer resources. This means that we have to find support for our work through grants, contracts, philanthropy, and other external sources. A second challenge has to do with the shortage of highly qualified teachers in many areas across the country, which is especially true in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields.
GGSE: Do you see any particular challenges for the Gevirtz School that might be different from those all education schools face?
Dr. Milem: I believe that challenges can also be viewed as tremendous opportunities and I think that is especially true of the Gevirtz School. The continuously evolving diversity of the state of California provides opportunities for teaching, learning, and human development that few other places have. Our challenge as scholars and teachers is to identify the conditions that must be in place to maximize these opportunities and minimize the challenges we face. In doing this, we serve the people of California and provide important leadership for the rest of our country.
GGSE: You earned your Ph.D. from UCLA. How connected are you to UCLA as an alumnus, and how do you hope GGSE's alumni think about and connect with UCSB as you begin your tenure here?
Dr. Milem: While I graduated from UCLA nearly 25 years ago, I have remained closely connected to the people there through my collaborations with former professors and faculty colleagues. Moreover, I am who I am as a scholar, teacher, and thought leader in large part because of the experiences that I had there. I hope that alumni of GGSE had experiences similar to mine and that, as a community of scholars, we work to insure that future alumni also have rewarding experiences while they are here that make them feel a deep connection to this place, the people who are here, and the important work that we do.