In a ceremony last Wednesday at Dunbar Elementary School, the Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Services Group Inc. announced a $1 million gift to endow a new chair in Early Childhood Education.
It is the first endowed professorship in the College of Education, and is a part of PNC’s 10-year, $100 million investment in early childhood education, called “PNC Grow up Great.”
“It’s not only the first chair in Early Childhood Education – it’s the first chair in the whole College of Education, and it’s a great thing for the college,” President David Adamany said. “It sets an example that we hope can be followed by others.”
Representatives from PNC and the university, as well as members of the community, attended the ceremony at Dunbar Elementary.
“We tried to find the strongest partners we possibly could,” said Bill Mills, president of PNC Bank, Philadelphia and New Jersey. “Temple’s school of education is one of the finest in the country, and it produces more urban educators than just about any school. It was natural when we decided we wanted to get involved.”
The $1 million will be placed in an account, and the university will use the expected $50,000 to $70,000 in annually accrued interest to fund the chair.
“It is a great opportunity for a major corporation and a major university to work together,” Adamany said. “Because the two of us were already partners in business and now both of us working in schools, it was a natural partnership to form.”
Dr. Barbara Wasik, a 1987 graduate of Temple’s developmental psychology program, has been nominated by President Adamany to fill the chair.
“She’s made a national reputation, and when we began exploring a chair in early childhood education we looked at the top people in the country,” Adamany said. “She was one, and she was approached and she agreed to come home to Temple.”
For the past 17 years, Wasik has been a faculty member at Johns Hopkins University. Most recently, she was their principal research scientist in early childhood education as well as director of the early learning program at the Center for Social Organization of Schools.
“I came here for both personal and professional reasons. I wanted to be a part of a college of education where teachers were being trained,” Wasik said. “This is an exciting time to be in the College of Education at Temple University with a lot of things changing and opportunities to do important work for children in need.”
“My goals are to continue to work with Head Start teachers, training them in research based strategies that promote language and literacy skills,” Wasik said.
Dr. Beatrice Mickey, principal of Dunbar Elementary School, said she eagerly awaits the potential outcome of the research.
“Dr. Wasik’s research is going to help us know just what is needed when you teach small kids. How they develop and grow. How they acquire language,” Mickey said.
Dunbar is one of several schools in the area that Temple has partnered with. The university contributes to the financial well-being of its partnership schools and provides professional development opportunities for their staff.
“The hope is over time that through our involvement with these schools, that their achievement will rise. There’s a pretty substantial gap in terms of how well these kids do today if you were to compare them with kids in the suburbs or around the state,” Kent McGuire, dean of the College of Education, said. “What Temple hopes to do is break that pattern and close that gap, working very aggressively on both the academic and nonacademic needs of the children in the partnership schools.”
“The college is really at an important time in its history and we’re poised to do some important things over the next three to five years.” McGuire said. “Our new urban education collaborative is going to be a major engine for improving teacher preparation in general.”
Tulin Ozturk can be reached at email@example.com.