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School of Education and Human Development University of Colorado Denver

School of Education and Human Development
 

Rebecca Kantor

Dean


I am thrilled to join the School of Education & Human Development as Dean and, to accept the privilege and responsibility of leading our talented faculty and staff in providing outstanding programs and contributing important new knowledge to the fields of education and human development through research and scholarship. I’m arriving at a very exciting time for the University, as it builds upon the recent consolidation with the Anschutz Medical Campus, and continues to define itself as an urban-serving, research-intensive institution. I share the passion of the faculty for working hard to understand the distinctive character and needs of our urban context and, for preparing excellent teachers, mental health providers, educational leaders and scholars for their professional settings.

I grew up in the 50s and 60s in the city of all cities—NYC, in diverse, immigrant neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens, the granddaughter of Eastern European and Russian immigrants. My extended family was large and long-lived! My great aunts, uncles, grandparents and great-grandparents were a huge part of my childhood, adolescence and into adulthood. The messages from them were clear and consistent: you must get an education; you must always put family-first; and, you must give back to your communit(ies). I listened and earned my bachelors from the University of Rochester in developmental psychology and linguistics, and my masters (and teaching certifications in early childhood and deaf education) and my doctorate (in language and cognition) at Boston University’s School of Education. Teaching was considered a noble profession in my family and highly encouraged. So, not surprisingly, my brother, sister and I all ended up in different kinds of careers in higher education! And, my husband and children, parents, siblings, cousins and remaining aunts and uncles remain a very tight-knit clan.

My teaching journey started in early childhood and elementary schools in Boston and then, Columbus Ohio — first in schools for the deaf (I am a fluent signer) and then in various inclusive early childhood programs, including full-day childcare. I have about ten years of direct program/classroom experience, including work as an Assistant Professor and the Director of the Lab School at The Ohio State University. Over time, I moved through several positions at OSU – achieving rank and tenure as a Full Professor. In total, I served 23 years as a faculty member, teacher, researcher and mentor with several administrative experiences along the way. I had a lively life as a researcher with many external grants to study classrooms as social contexts for teaching and learning, and to reform the ways we prepare teachers in partnership with schools.

Six years ago, I was invited to be Director of the School of Teaching and Learning at OSU for a School about the same size as the School of Education & Human Development. While I was somewhat of an accidental tourist to administration, I found that I had arrived at a place in my career where I thoroughly enjoyed the challenges of leadership and management as well as the thrill of being part of putting the wind under the wings of talented faculty. I led the School through a time of major change—adopting the semester calendar, growing the base of research grants, designing many new programs and hiring a large group of outstanding faculty.

In all, I spent 29 years as a Buckeye in a rich and rewarding career of teaching, research, service and administration, but knew a few years ago that I wanted to move on. I wanted to challenge myself, and make a different kind of contribution. I took my time looking for the position I truly wanted because I knew that yanking roots out of the ground that had been growing for 29 years would be hard. When I saw the position advertisement for the Dean of SEHD at the University of Colorado Denver, I knew I had found a good fit for me. I was drawn by the urban setting, the incredible network of school and community partnerships in both teacher and counselor preparation and research collaboratives. I was intrigued by the transformation that is taking place through the University of Colorado/Anschutz Medical Campus consolidation and the quality of the faculty, students and upper leadership. My visits here just confirmed my interest and I knew I had found my next home.

Although I grew up on the 9th floor of high rise apartment buildings in NYC, I spent my summers from toddlerhood to adolescence with my grandparents and their siblings in the Catskill mountains, two hours north of the city—during the hey-day of life in the “Borscht Belt.” Here, I fell in love with the mountains and the great outdoors. We climbed trees, hiked paths, swam, biked, canoed and fell exhausted into bed every night. So, I am equally at home riding public transportation and living in the heart of the city as I am enjoying the mountain life of the Rockies. My husband (of 33 years) and children and I are avid skiers, bikers, hikers and love the winter! When not exercising or playing outdoors, I also have a passion for cooking and love the abundance of fresh, local produce and food in this area.

I have a very supportive husband, and two, grown wonderful children—a son, Evan, a 2007 graduate of the University of Dayton, remains in Columbus where he has an interesting job in marketing for a start-up market research firm. My daughter, Maxine, a 2011 CU Boulder graduate, is assistant manager of the men’s department at the Nordstrom Rack. I am learning the joys of sharing a life with adult children and my new role as coach and confidante as they wind their way through the “20s”—times of challenge and change. My husband, Reed Martin, is an MBA (Dartmouth College) and Chief Operating Officer of Surgical Management Professionals of South Dakota—a company that joint ventures with surgeons to develop and manage free-standing surgery centers all around the country. Lucky for me, he could pack up and move to Colorado easily. He needs a home office and an airport and he can work from anywhere!

My door is usually open and I welcome students, staff and faculty to walk-in, sit and share their stories, lives, hopes and dreams. Together, I know we will take the SEHD to the next level of achievement as a first-class program leader among Schools in the nation and make significant contributions to the Denver Metro Area, and Colorado.

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