SVSU recently welcomed James Tarr as the new dean for the College of Education.
Tarr brings with him experience and many years of professional work. Born and raised in Iowa, Tarr attended Iowa University and completed his bachelor’s in science in 1986. He then gained certification to teach mathematics as a secondary high school teacher in Lincoln, Nebraska.
In 1993, he received his master’s in educational psychology and measurement from the University of Nebraska.
Tarr taught middle school for St. Paul Public Schools in Minnesota, but his journey into higher education was not over yet.
He earned his doctorate in mathematics education in 1997 and began working for Middle Tennessee State University.
Tarr became a faculty member at the University of Missouri in 2000, earned tenure and associate professor status in 2006 and earned professor status in 2013.
He served as chairman of the Department of Learning, Teaching and Curriculum, which he referred to as “home to one of the largest educator preparation programs in the state of Missouri.”
Being entirely new to SVSU, Tarr said he will first focus his attention on getting to know the people he is working with and the campus community.
“In my first month, I will focus on building relationships – with faculty, staff, campus administrators and school partners – because improving education requires teamwork,” he said. “I will also get up to speed with how SVSU operates because every university has its own system for getting things done. I also hope to get to know SVSU’s students and begin to build rapport with them.”
He said the education students he has already met have had an impact on him.
“I was so impressed by the education students I met during my campus visit to SVSU,” he said. “I look forward to leading their college.”
Tarr said he applied for the dean position because of colleagues who have roots in Michigan who spoke highly of SVSU.
“I know SVSU has a strong reputation in teacher education, so I consider this position to be a wonderful opportunity to build on their storied history,” he said.
Tarr already has plans for measuring his success as the new dean of the College of Education. One of the most crucial aspects of his success, he said, is fighting to resolve the nationwide teacher shortage.
“I would like to see us increase the number of teachers we produce in order to address the teacher shortage in the state of Michigan and nationally,” he said. “I also strive to enhance the quality of SVSU’s programs and build on their reputation for quality.”
Above all, Tarr said he is ready to embrace the people, culture and values of SVSU, to lead the university into a bright future and to make SVSU a place where everyone feels cared for.
“I will work to create an inclusive environment where everyone has a voice and feels valued and appreciated,” he said. “Ultimately, I want students, faculty and staff alike to take pride in SVSU and tell the world what a great place it is to work and go to school.”