Teacher Ed Center OK'd

University of Wisconsin - River Falls

Sept. 14, 1996

$6.5 Million Teacher Ed Center OK'd

A new $6.5 million Teacher Education Center was approved for construction at UW-River Falls by the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents on Friday (Sept. 14).

That action follows a unanimous vote on Wednesday (Sept. 12) to release the funds for construction in a meeting of the Wisconsin State Building Commission chaired in Madison by Gov. Tommy Thompson.

With the release of funding, groundbreaking will take place by summer for the first new teacher education building constructed in the 13-campus UW System since 1972.

An elated Chancellor Gary A. Thibodeau called the votes by both the Building Commission and Board of Regents as "really great news for the UW-River Falls and its service region."

"I think the construction of a new Teacher Education Center its a critically important step in the continuing collaboration and evolution of the relationship between our College of Education & Graduate Studies with the school districts in our region," Thibodeau said.

"This will allow us to build a state-of-the-art facility that will infuse technology into our teacher preparation efforts and provide them with all of the skills that they will need. The facility is crticial from an instructional perspective, and it is critical for continuing our collaborative relationship with school districts in our region."

Dean Kathleen Daly noted the new facility will solidify the College's teacher education preparation and service relationship with school districts "in an integrated, holistic approach."

The College is presently housed in the Ames Teacher Education Center, constructed in 1963 as a laboratory school for training teachers. It will be vacated by the College with present plans to use it as a business incubator and small business development facility.

According to Campus Planner Dale Braun, the new teacher education building, designed by HRS Associates, Inc., of La Crosse, will include a two-story facility of 47,000 square feet to be sited between the current Ames building and Hathorn Hall on the south side of the main campus. Occupancy is expected for the start of the 1998 fall semester.

The facility will provide new advantages unavailable in the current building:

  • A suite of 12 modern classrooms for teacher training surrounding the building's heart: the Educational Technology Center. The Center serves as the hub for introducing undergraduate and graduate education students to emerging instructional and information technologies.
  • Creation of a regional Outreach Center that will provide laboratory services from faculty and students to educators and regional residents for the Departments of Communicative Disorders, Counseling and School Psychology, Social Work and the Reading Center. For the first time, the College will have therapy rooms and group counseling rooms for these services, in addition to upgraded diagnostic facilities.
  • Continuation of a Pre-school program for children age 4 and under as a laboratory for the College's Early Childhood Program.
  • Dean Daly noted that the College of Education & Professional Studies traces its roots to the founding of the State Normal School at River Falls in 1874 to train teachers. The new facility will carry that education tradition well into the next century, she said.

    The building will solidify the College's "constructivist" philosophical approach to education, Daly said. That advocates a dynamic creation of understanding in which educators are taught the techniques to require their students to be active participants in their education, rather than allowing students to passively have teachers "fill" them with knowledge.

    "Part of this is about developing childrens' higher-level thinking skills, through project-based learning supported by technology."

    The constructivist approach also relies heavily on the College's strong working relationships with surrounding school districts. Regional school districts are extensively involved in designing the College's curriculum, assisting in teacher education field experiences, and exploring teaching strategies, such as through the use of telecommunications, Daly said.

    The College has been a national leader for decades in teacher education because of its collaborative relationships with school districts, and its pursuit of informational technologies for instruction. It was cited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education for the quality of its field-based experiences that places student teachers into real classroom environments.

    Last year it was chosen by the National Education Association as one of the 11 best programs in the nation. The college was just one of two that was cited for excellence across the breadth of in its entire program based in part on its use of new technologies and its exceptionally strong collaborative relationships with regional school districts.

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