Vetta Vratulis, a former acting assistant dean for the College of Education, has been appointed the interim dean of the College of Education for the 2019-2020 academic year.
Vratulis took the position after former interim dean David Callejo Perez took an administrative position at Penn State, said Deborah Huntley, the provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.
Huntley said SVSU conducted a search for a permanent dean but was unsuccessful in finding a “qualified” candidate.
“Education deans are difficult to find,” she said. “The market is very competitive. (Perez) chose not to apply for family reasons.”
Huntley believes Vratulis’s experience with the College of Education will make her a good fit for the position.
“Since she had been serving as acting assistant dean and was familiar with the operations of the office – course scheduling, clinical placements, reporting and so on – and because she had been very effective in her role, she was a natural choice for the position,’ she said.
Vratulis said it was a “gift and an honor” to be invited in as the interim dean.
“One of the things that I really enjoy about it is that you really have the opportunity to create change,” she said. “As someone who is an educator and a faculty member, that is where my heart rests.”
Vratulis was a K-12 educator before joining the College of Education as a faculty member. She believes her previous experiences will help her in this new role.
“I believe one thing that is important is understanding the intricacies of our programs, understanding the needs of our communities and our teachers, as well as the students in our classrooms and how that transfers out in schools,” she said. “So, part of that transfer is that I have had the opportunity to work in all three spaces. I’ve worked as an educator, I’ve obviously been a student, and I worked as a faculty member for a period of time.”
Vratulis said she understands the College of Education has gone through many changes, including two interim deans in the last two years. She hopes to make sure the faculty knows their voices will be heard, though.
“Whenever you have change, there’s going to be conversations about what that trajectory is going to look like,” she said. “Trying to ensure that everyone is part of the conversation who needs to be part of the conversation, that involves community members, stakeholders, faculty and students within the college.”
She hopes to unite these voices under a common vision and goal. Vratulis said this can be a positive, but it can also create “hiccups” along the way.
“One of the things that is a great gift, though, is that we have faculty who already have close partnerships and have close community partners,” she said. “So, I believe that will help serve that common goal moving forward.”
Vratulis said their goals are centered around having a College of Excellence.
“We have always had a vision of having a College of Excellence, having good student retention, making sure we reach out to all our students who are eligible for our programs,” she said. “But we also want to make sure we are offering the best quality program we can to prepare teachers and prospective teachers. I think we do that.”
Vratulis is excited to help shape positive change in the college.
“Part of what I am most looking forward to is being in a space where I can be knee-deep in the mess alongside faculty and students, and being part of the vision and conversation moving forward,” she said. “Decisions we make now are going to reshape the trajectory of our college for the next five to 10 years.”
One of the first changes is a grade banding revision made by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE). Grade bands refer to the grades teachers can be certified to teach. The change has not yet been made, but Vratulis wants SVSU to be prepared for it.
“This change will reconceptualize how we offer the education program,” she said. “We have birth to three, three to six and so on for different certifications. The MDE changes will involve restructuring in the College of Education in terms of how we meet MDE requirements and meet the needs of the community.”
Huntley said SVSU will again search for a permanent dean this fall.
“We are launching a new search in early September with the assistance of a national search firm that will assist us in developing a strong pool,” she said. “We hope to find a suitable dean by the beginning of winter term.”
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