The Division of Education and Psychology has not lost a step despite Hurricane Katrina. It is on the move towards possibly over achieving expectations, according to one of its co-deans. Dr. Keith Wismar, who is acting as co-dean along with Dr. Patricia Morris, gave that assessment while waiting to board a plane heading to Boston, Mass. Thursday afternoon.
As Dr. Wismar was competing with static on his cell phone and airport announcements in the background, he said that for the most part the Division’s reputation has not changed. It is still in fairly good standing.
During a 22-minute phone conversation, Dr. Wismar pointed out his main priority is heading the field of psychology and Dr. Morris is chairperson of education. The two have been linked together since July 1, 2005. Dr. Morris was unavailable for this interview because she was in route on a trip to Africa.
Dr. Wismar stated that due to Hurricane Katrina the Psychology Department only
lost one key faculty member, Ronald Murphy, assistant professor. He was the
department’s research manager. Dr. Wismar called his departure one of the greatest losses in the Psychology Department. “It is now hard to provide research opportunities for students without key contributors,” said Dr. Wismar. On the other hand, the education department lost more faculty members than psychology. Faculty who are no longer active are Monique Kimball, instructor of Education; Annie Daniels, assistant professor; Frita Armour, instructor of education; Heidi McDonald, instructor of early childhood education and reading specialist; and Loretta Mbadagha, assistant professor of education and director of Gilbert Early College Academy.
Although, there were a few major losses for education, according to Dr. Wismar, there is a plus expected in the near future. Dr. Claiborne, director of grant program in reading, is not currently involved in the department but is expected to return to the Division of Education and Psychology in September.
He said his goals for the division is to make sure that the students graduate and are well prepared for graduate school and wants students to qualify for entry level jobs in psychology. Slightly touching on the goals for the education department, he said it wants to maintain A+ rating the highest level of any University in New Orleans. Then he added another goal is to increase the number of education graduates.
In order to achieve the goals of the Division as a whole, both departments are making the proper adjustments to make large progressive strides, confirmed Dr. Wismar. For example, because of Hurricane Katrina and the loss of faculty members the
Division has had to limit the amount of courses being offered. Similarly, some professors
teach extra courses. For instance, some education professors teach five or six courses instead of the required four. Dr. Wismar said as a result, classes are larger and if enrollment increases the University will need to hire more professors. “If it decreases then we may need to start cutting professors,” stated Dr. Wismar.
Also, on a scale from 1 to 10 Dr. Wismar ranked the division an 8. He suggested that if they get more freshmen, sophomores and juniors to commit to their studies along with hiring more faculty members the ranking will jump to a 10 or better. “But it is a growing phase within the next five years.”
Hurricane Katrina damaged the newest building on Dillard’s campus, where the Division of Education and Psychology was located. According to Dr. Wismar, by mid-September DUICEF, along with computer labs will be restored and back in action. FEMA will provide temporary modules specifically for classroom purposes if necessary.
Dr. Wismar said despite changes with faculty and course loads some things in the Division of Education and Psychology have not changed a bit. “Integrity is still high and things are up to par.”