Welcome from the Dean

Welcome to the College of Education

Dr. Valerie Martin Conley

Greetings students, alumni, community partners, parents, and friends. I am honored to serve as the dean of the College of Education at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.  Over the past three years, we have renewed and strengthened relationships with students, alumni, faculty, staff, donors, administration and community partners. I have been inspired and energized by what I have learned, and through our work to develop a collective vision for the future! We have faced some tough challenges and realized success.

Last year the College of Education celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the PhD in Leadership, Research and Policy. We received accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP).  Faculty and staff engaged in work necessary to demonstrate the quality of our academic programs in order to achieve this recognition. This work was grounded firmly in the College of Education’s mission of preparing teachers, counselors, and leaders educating the whole person, professional formation, and empowering leaders for a just and humane world. Throughout, they held fast our to core values of Equity, Inquiry, and Innovation.

We have successfully launched two new undergraduate degree programs.  In 2015, we started a Bachelor of Innovation in Inclusive Early Childhood Education.  In 2016, we started a Bachelor of Arts in Inclusive Elementary Education.  We now enroll more than 300 undergraduate students in these two programs.  There is still much work to be done.  This positive trend is in direct conflict with national and state trends.  A recent report from the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE) cited overall enrollment declines in teacher preparation programs.  According to the publicly available Executive Summary for the report: “The number of undergraduate education degrees awarded annually peaked at almost 200,000 in the early 1970s and is less than 100,000 today” (King, 2018, p.3).

In Colorado, the issues are similar; however magnitude varies.  The Colorado Teacher Shortage Report identifies teacher shortages in early childhood education and care, science, math, world languages, special education, and art/music/drama. According to Colorado’s Teacher Shortage Strategic Action Plan: “We lack minority educators throughout the state. The shortages are more pronounced in rural and remote rural areas where we find unique challenges driven by inadequate teacher compensation, lack of affordable housing, and difficulty attracting new teachers to rural communities. Overall enrollment in educator preparation programs during the academic year 2016-17 was 10,964.  The 2017 Educator Preparation Report provides the first evidence that declines may be beginning to stabilize as there is roughly only a 1% change in the last three years of reporting (Educator Preparation Report: Academic Year 2016-17, p.3).

It is critically important that we align our programs with partner needs.  We recognize the growing social and emotional support needs in our community and region.  That’s why we will be launching Campus Connections during the 2019-20 academic year.  Campus Connections is a therapeutic mentoring program for at-risk youth.  In part to support Campus Connections, we are proposing another new undergraduate program in Human Services.  The BA in Human Services will build on a strong foundation of already existing minors in Human Services and in Student Affairs, which combined currently enroll over 100 students.  The Bachelor of Arts in Human Services will have four emphasis areas: Addictions, Career, Military Support Services, and Student Affairs. We are on-track to begin offering this new degree in Fall of 2019, pending institutional, Board of Regents, and state approval.  Look for more information about this new program as we meet milestones necessary to offer this new opportunity to UCCS students!

We have renewed our commitment to the region by offering pilot cohorts with a number of districts and Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES).  We are especially excited to be part of a new UCCS Community Partnership.  The College of Education is offering an innovative seminar series in the new UCCS Downtown presence.  Chancellor Venkat Reddy announced the Teacher Leader Academy as part of his remarks about UCCS Downtown.  We are delighted to be a part of this initiative, and we are grateful that UCCS executive leadership understands and prioritizes the professions of education, counseling and human services, and leadership as part of our core mission.

We enroll undergraduate and graduate students, preparing them to be successful professionals in schools and communities. Our programs include master’s degrees in Counseling and Human Services, Teaching and Learning, Leadership, Research and Foundations, a Bachelor of Innovation in Inclusive Early Childhood Education and Bachelor of Arts in Inclusive Elementary Education. Currently, our 54 faculty and staff serve almost 1000 students.

Our education programs are accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), and the Colorado Department on Higher Education (CDHE). The College of Education at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). For more information about our accreditation, please visit our CAEP page

We advocate for education and community-centered goals and initiatives that align with our mission, vision, and values and strive to achieve positive academic and community-focused outcomes. We serve Colorado Springs and the southern region of the state of Colorado, fostering an academic community that embraces equity, inquiry and innovation. Beyond Colorado’s borders, our students come from 12 other states and 3 countries, enriching the diversity of educational experiences for all students.

We understand that your decision to pursue higher education is an important one. For this reason, we invite you to learn more about our programs and the many activities we engage in to serve our communities. We hope you will consider joining this energetic, intellectually engaged, and personally supportive community, and welcome the opportunity to show you what we have to offer in person. To arrange an appointment with an advisor, please contact our Student Resource Office via email education@uccs.edu or phone 719-255-4996.

UCCS is undertaking a new strategic planning process to focus our energy and actions in the coming years.  The College of Education also will engage in a parallel process to ensure we align with institutional goals.  We look forward to engaging all of our stakeholders—students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the community in this process.  As I begin my fourth year at UCCS, I am invigorated by the exciting new directions of UCCS and the College of Education, and by the aspirations to be defined through our strategic planning process. We look forward to reaffirming existing goals and identifying new ones as we continue to make real progress toward fulfilling our mission for a changing Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Southern Colorado, western region, and world.

Sincerely,

-Dean Valerie Martin Conley, Ph.D.
Professor Leadership, Research and Foundation

Equity • Inquiry • Innovation