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Australian scholar named dean of College of Education at Illinois

Craig Chamberlain, Education Editor
217-333-2894; cdchambe@uiuc.edu

5/3/2006

Mary Kalantzis
Click photo to enlarge
Photo by RMIT University
Mary Kalantzis, a professor of education and former dean at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia, has been named the new dean of the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, pending approval by the U. of I. Board of Trustees at its May 11 meeting in Chicago.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Mary Kalantzis, a professor of education and former dean at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia, has been named the new dean of the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, pending approval by the U. of I. Board of Trustees at its May 11 meeting in Chicago.

Kalantzis [pronounced kuh-LAN-ziss], currently a chair of education in the Research and Innovation Portfolio at RMIT, as well as a research professor in the university’s Globalism Institute, will begin her new duties on Aug. 1. She succeeds Susan Fowler, a professor of special education, who is stepping down after six years as dean to return to teaching.

“Mary Kalantzis has a remarkable record of accomplishment as a scholar and is widely recognized as an international leader in the field of education,” said Richard Herman, the chancellor of the Urbana campus. “She engages national and international debate on educational issues in a way that will bring recognition to scholars and practitioners in our College of Education.

“She is passionate about the importance of quality education to societal well-being and has particular strength in building the type of interdisciplinary and external partnerships that will be critical for the success of our strategic plan over the next five years. I have full confidence in Mary’s ability to succeed as a leader in our College of Education, on the campus, and beyond.”

Provost Linda P.B. Katehi said: "I am highly pleased by our success in recruiting Mary Kalantzis, an internationally recognized scholar in education, to join our leadership team at the University of Illinois. The College of Education is instrumental to our preeminence as an institution, and Mary is ideally positioned to enhance our visibility and presence."

Kalantzis, a native of Greece, emigrated as a young child to Australia with her family. She earned a bachelor’s degree in history and linguistics in 1980 from Macquarie University in Sydney, and earned her doctorate in 1991 from Macquarie’s School of History, Philosophy and Politics.

Kalantzis also studied the teaching of English as a second language, and has had teaching experience at every level, from kindergarten to postgraduate studies.

From 1984 to 1993, she was a research fellow and then a senior research fellow at the Centre for Multicultural Studies at the University of Wollongong. From 1990 to 1997, she was the director of the Centre for Workplace Communication and Culture, based first at the University of Technology in Sydney.

In 1993, Kalantzis became a professor of education and director of the Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies at James Cook University of North Queensland in Townsville. From 1997 to 2003, she was the executive dean of the Faculty of Education, Language and Community Services at RMIT University. (“RMIT University" is the complete and official name of the school and not an abbreviation.)

Kalantzis is internationally known for her research in the areas of literacy and multicultural education, and in particular for her work on a pedagogy of multiliteracies. She also has written on ethnicity, gender, culture, workplace change, training and curriculum.

From 2000 to 2004, Kalantzis served as the president of the Australian Council of Deans of Education, and then played a role in the development of the National Institute for Quality Teaching and Leadership, a new federal teacher accreditation agency.

Kalantzis said that she has numerous long-term connections with U.S. academics and spent a year in the United States on a fellowship in the early 1990s.

She said the U. of I. College of Education has many ties with Australia.

“Interestingly, the (U. of I.) college has been hugely influential on Australian education,” she said, and many of Australia’s educational leaders are alumni of the college.

In accepting the position, Kalantzis said she sees both opportunity and challenge for the college.

“What we teach in universities in the discipline of education and the way we teach is in a state of flux,” she said. But she also sees a college that is “already world-renowned,” and said she hopes to build on that influence.