Since he came to Bowling Green last summer as the new dean of the College of Education and Human Development, Dr. Brad Colwell has been on a mission to “get BGSU back to its glory of truly being the leader in all issues K-12.”
The mission has taken him on various journeys, from the halls of the Education Building, out into the community to meet with teachers and administrators in area school districts, and to BGSU’s advocates in Columbus to press for support for higher education.
“With a new governor coming in, that’s doubly important,” he said. “We have a great story to tell, and we need to make sure everyone hears that story. I need to lead that charge.”
An important leadership development for the college is the introduction of a blended early childhood/special education program, scheduled for fall 2012. “We will be the first school in Ohio to offer it. We’re blazing a trail in Ohio. Everyone is excited about that; it’s cutting edge,” he said.
Genial but intense, Colwell sees the importance of getting to know his new home. “A lot of my time has been spent listening,” he said. “Every institution has its own culture. I needed to learn the histories and traditions here. You can’t come in and lead without learning the culture first.” He also held a number of forums to make sure the faculty had a good grasp of budget issues and other factors that impact them. “The goal is to empower folks with the best information we can give them and let them run.
“However, some things needed immediate attention, and I’ve tried to address those,” he said. They include clearing out and sprucing up the Education Building’s hallways and plans for relocating student services offices on the first floor and creating a student lounge there. “When students come to this building, we want them to see it as student-friendly and attractive. It’s important to pay attention to infrastructure.”
Another pressing issue that is more complicated is dealing with the 23 percent growth in new freshmen. “That’s good, but it does present issues. We’re hoping to hire upwards of 20 new faculty for next year, and we hope the budget stays firm,” Colwell said.
Enrollment in the college is growing, with the highest percentage increase occurring in the School of Human Movement, Sport and Leisure Studies. With 600 majors, “our applications there are in record numbers, and there’s a lot of energy. We have a nice mix of senior and junior faculty and a new director, Dr. Philip Xie. It’s exciting.”
Despite the college’s success and its historical role as BGSU’s founding college, Colwell said, “we also realize we’re not the only game in town. We cannot rest on our reputation; we have to be competitive and always be cognizant of showcasing the college in its best light.”