Donald Halquist: New Dean of the School of Education

Professor Donald Halquist, dean of RIC’s Feinstein School of Education and Human Development (FSEHD), hails from The College at Brockport at the State University of New York.

Halquist was chair of Brockport’s Department of Education and Human Development for the past four years and taught graduate and undergraduate courses in language and literacy, diversity, and research in elementary education for the past 14 years.

He earned both his Ph.D. in language, literacy and sociocultural studies (2009) and his M.A. in elementary education (2001) from The University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. He received a B.F.A. at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania in communication graphics in 1983. Halquist is also a professional dancer (29 years) and member of the Bill Evans Dance Company.

“My background in the arts has helped me understand the importance of working collaboratively to create something that I could not accomplish on my own,” he said.

With partnerships as a focal point, Halquist expressed particular interest in the established and newly established collaborations within the FSEHD, such as the Henry Barnard Laboratory School, instituted in 1898, and the Central Falls/RIC Innovation Lab, created in 2013.

“The Central Falls/RIC Innovation Lab comes at a good time,” said Halquist. “This is a time when many responsibilities are being brought to bear on public schools. They are faced with the challenge of meeting expectations around the Common Core and raising the bar of standardized testing and meeting the diverse needs of a variety of learners. How can we support teacher preparation and professional development and work together with public schools to create environments where students, teachers, administrators and other school professionals can be successful? Any support for public schools that we, as a college, and we, as a community, can rally behind is important.”

Of the Henry Barnard Laboratory School, which has served Rhode Island College and the people of Rhode Island as a nonpublic, independent, elementary school for more than 100 years, Halquist said, “it is a rare entity on college campuses. It’s exciting to know that our teacher-candidates and our school professionals have access to this environment. It’s also exciting to hear that the new principal at Henry Barnard is interested in partnering with other RIC divisions beyond the Feinstein School of Education.”

Halquist has an eye on developing a division centered on partnership. He intends to go on an “active listening tour,” meeting with each faculty member within the FSEHD individually. “With 95 faculty, that’s going to take time,” he said. “But it will be time well spent. I want to support faculty, but in order to do that I need to know what is important to them.”

In looking back at his first 21 days as dean, Halquist could only express excitement about the days ahead.