x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Zayed University seeks dean to lead it into the future

University's teacher-training college searching for what may be its fourth dean in two years.

DUBAI // Zayed University's teacher-training college has started searching for what may be its fourth dean in two years.

The university is seeking international applicants for the position at its College of Education and has placed an advertisement in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Dr Robin Dada took up the position on an interim basis last year. She took over from Dr John Cryan, who stayed only briefly after taking over from Dr Peggy Blackwell in 2010. Dr Blackwell had been at the helm since 2004.

Dr Dada, who has been with the university for 12 years, may now apply for the position on a permanent basis but university practice requires the position to be advertised internationally.

The provost of the university, Dr Larry Wilson, said Dr Dada was a strong candidate but she must still go through the formal application process.

"Robin has done a great job so it's not anything negative against her," Dr Wilson said. "We've always believed that every position should have an open search before anyone is officially appointed."

He added it was crucial to have a permanent dean.

"We've had a transition for over two years now," Dr Wilson said. "We want to get a regular appointment there as quickly as possible."

Dr Natasha Ridge, the head of research at Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research in Ras Al Khaimah, which specialises in education reform, said stability of leadership was critical for the institution that was founded in 1998.

"With their desire to become a leading institute of education and teacher training, it is critical that they maintain both high quality and continuity of leadership," Dr Ridge said.

"Any dean needs at least three years to come to grips with the programmes, the institution, and to overcome any challenges that currently exist."

These challenges include convincing the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) of the worth of the college's graduates.

Not one of the about 110 teachers it has produced in the past two years has been employed by Adec, which claims federal universities are producing graduates with the wrong skills.

All of the graduate teachers have instead found jobs in Dubai.

The job advertisement in The Chronicle of Higher Education says the new dean will have "a unique opportunity to lead the development of the College of Education as it becomes even more engaged with the national school reform movement and in creating its new graduate school of education and professional development".

Filling the post is a priority, with a host of ambitious plans for the academic year.

In September, the college will open its Early Childhood Learning Centre, where students will train on the job in the university's own nursery facility.

The centre will also be used for research into bilingual learning.

The position of dean is not the only one with a high turnover rate.

Last year's reappointment of Dr Larry Wilson was the seventh time a provost had been appointed since the university opened.

mswan@thenational.ae