Education Summit or Innovation Slam?


Eighty Lesley faculty and staff came together on January 25 for an Education Summit. I hosted the summit with Deans Steve Shapiro and Amy Rutstein-Riley in order to provide a forum for dialogue on how Lesley can continue to be a leader in innovative pedagogy and education advocacy. In her welcome address, President Emeritus Margaret McKenna highlighted the opportunities that Lesley faculty are uniquely qualified to address, including meeting the demand for SPED and ELL instruction, improving assessment for both populations, and leading on civics education. McKenna also spoke about the emerging opportunities for partnerships with school systems, charter schools, and independent schools.

I was honored to announce that Margaret McKenna has generously contributed $70,000 to an innovation fund for new interdisciplinary education initiatives, which is also supported by $30,000 from the endowment. This innovation fund will support competitive proposals from faculty teams who propose projects aimed at enhancing Lesley’s reputation as a leader for change in education and in revenue and enrollment growth.

Following a robust discussion about a vision for Lesley’s future, faculty pitched over 40 concepts for collaborative projects. Ideas ranged from leading on environmental education through experiential learning, to developing competency based licensing programs in education, to a new certificate to respond to new legislation regarding Dyslexia. The fun, fast-paced event highlighted the expertise and passion of our faculty, and the work that is already underway to re-imagine what it means to lead with the same conviction and purpose that Edith Lesley possessed in 1909 when she founded the institution. Teams will now develop concepts into brief proposals through a competitive process, which will result in the selection of several funded projects this spring.

Faculty Assembly Co-Chair Jonathan Jefferson coined the event an “innovation slam” and suggested we hold one every year. What do you think? What else should we be doing to make Lesley an incubator of bold ideas?

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