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UCI names founding dean for new School of Education

Deborah Lowe Vandell is credited with the development of UCI’s education program

by Caitlin AdamsPublished: August 09, 2012 03:05 PM

The scholar behind the evolution of UC Irvine’s top-ranking education department has been selected to lead the university’s newly created School of Education. Deborah Vandell, chair of UCI's Department of Education since 2006, will become the founding dean of the new school, which was established last month by the University of California Board of Regents.

“Deborah Vandell was the clear choice for dean,” said UCI Chancellor Michael Drake. "She is a preeminent scholar and an outstanding leader. She has contributed greatly to our campus during her six years with us. We look forward to continued excellence in research, scholarship and community engagement from the new School of Education under her guidance.”

UCI’s education department has grown into a school under Vandell’s guidance, which drew top talent to the university and developed educational studies into the largest undergraduate minor on campus, with 1,700 students. The doctoral studies program in education last spring graduated its first class of students, and the department has outranked many older, and more established schools on the U.S. News & World Report’s list of the top 50 graduate schools in education.

“The faculty, students and staff at UCI have been united in our mission to build an education school for the future, one that brings together early childhood development, after-school and summer programs, technology and online learning, along with our strengths in K-12 and higher education,” Vandell said. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to serve as the founding dean for a school of education that’s taking this comprehensive approach.”

Vandell’s many years of research and work on the effects of early child care, K-12 education, after-school programs and families’ influence on the social, academic and behavioral development in children have lead to international recognition in these areas.

“This is the start of a very exciting chapter for UC Irvine," said Susan Bryant, interim executive vice chancellor and provost for the campus. "It is a credit to the vision of our former EVCP, Mike Gottfredson, and it recognizes the superb faculty in the School of Education, and the outstanding leadership of Deborah Vandell.”

Vandell, who earned a master’s in education from Harvard and Ph.D. in psychology from Boston University, served as a principal investigator in one of the most comprehensive studies into early childhood development, lead by the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development. As part of the Study of Early Child Care & Youth Development, she tracked and evaluated 1,300 children from birth through high school, analyzing the long- and short-term effects of pre-K education, school, and family interactions on child development.

Vandell is also credited with developing an online assessment tool used by the state to assess the quality of student performance in summer learning and after-school programs. The author of three books and more than 150 articles, Vandell holds fellowships with the American Psycholigcal Association and the American Educational Research Association, and is a member of the governing council of the Society for Research in Child Development.

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