College of Education Faculty Oral Histories

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Dr. Steve Permuth

LB: Now did the higher education components stay in Educational Leadership?

SP: No, the higher education components went to a department called ACHE which is Adult, Career, and Higher Education. So it’s a separate department. Yet, we co-exist across the hall. Again, they are also very excellent group of faculty.

LB: Joe Tomaino was in the College I think when you arrived.

SP: That’s correct.

LB: I know you worked with him closely in terms of development and corporate support for the College.

SP: Yes a lot. Joe Tomaino was and is one of those super valuable people. He is just a person of deep commitment and deep spirituality in the belief of giving of self. He really represented the University well. We made a very good team. Joe has a vivid sense of what to do. I enjoyed fundraising especially for the college of Education. We ended up doing a number of things. One was the beginning of the “Education in Action” breakfasts which honored teachers and drew money to the College. Another one was Education Family Night associated with a USF basketball game. Alumni and faculty families would attend a reception and then the game, and if you remember all wore College of Education the t-shirts. We weren’t sure how well that one would go, but 750 attended the first event. We reinvigorated the alumni association under his leadership. It was a good group and it became better than good under his leadership.

One of the outstanding events of my career here was Joe and I flying to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, to meet the Power Ball winner. One of our former students was a Power Ball lottery winner and started working with him on what has become a now substantial part of our scholarship and endowment fund. To find that this young man was as informal as the world expected him to be formal. The money did not go to his head. He was just a very literate capable guy who found out that winning the Power Ball did not necessarily bring all kinds of good things. But the other thing I enjoyed about him was his constant referral to the quality of education he got in the College, especially in English education and especially the name he kept saying, and I would hope in these proceedings her name is included. He mentioned Joan Kaywell as his mentor and the person who really invigorated his love of English and in teaching. That says something about the College and its faculty. We met him at a small diner, at one these places that’s not the university tower and he could not have been more appreciative and forth coming. Without a Joe Tomaino, those types of things don’t happen without good development officers. They are the people who lead the administrators into a place of saying we can do this. Tomaino is one of a kind, just brilliant and again he’s one of the excellent jewels of USF.

LB: The migrant education program was in its beginning at that time. Then I think the Florida Strawberry Growers Association got involved in supporting the program. Were you and Joe involved in that?

SP: We ended up involving the Florida Strawberry Growers Association and to a degree the tomato growers association into the program for migrant students that is directed by Dr. Ann Cranston. The other project was the Richardson Family Scholarship started earlier under Dean Katzenmeyer. Then when I became the Dean, the endowment really accelerated and increased support for our special education program and its students. The Richardson family has just consistently done exceptional things for this College and University.

LB: What are those activities in the College that stand out that you’re most proud of as Dean?

SP: I think the ones I’m most proud of are what I would call the re-energizing of a quality faculty to become even better. Sometimes I worry we set goals to become the top this or that without worrying about being the very best we can and see where that fits. I think the College has an excellent balance of researchers, teachers, and those who really look at working with the schools in service as part of a very legitimate role. I think the re-energization of faculty lets get back to the schools through the development of the professional development schools. Starting a deeper understanding of research and its direction within the College I think was possible because of the excellent faculty we had. I think that really made it happen.

LB: Recently, I’ve been looking on line at the research grants coming to the University and to the College and I was blown away by, certainly in the last five years the number of large grants coming to the faculty in the College of Education. You have witnessed that?

SP: Yes.

LB: We always had grants in the College, but it was the number and amount of each grant, I guess, is what impressed me.

SP: What people failed to realize is that we have very consistently been number three or four as a college in terms of research capability and dollars drawn in. When I was the Dean we were at three we ended up at two and by the way we still are. Now the other thing that happens is the grants coming to faculty members also came to institutes, so again the At-Risk Institute is one of the large purveyors of grants in our institution. Educational Psychology and Social Foundations does a tremendous amount of grant work with schools. The migrant program does tremendous work with schools. There are a number of others and we’re fully capable of doing even better things. I think that the balancing in terms of all this are the expectations of faculty to do as much as we’d like them to do and then do research. How do you teach, how to you service the schools and do research all at the same time? I think there has been a constant view after my deanship through the deanship of Dean Applegate and to the present deanship of Dean Kennedy, of greater effort on the recruitment of faculty and students from diverse populations. There has also been a view of the importance of the utilization of technology in teaching and teaching methodology within the schools and in the College. There is a continued concern about making sure that a research emphasis ties with the needs of the public schools we serve.

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