Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dean Colleen Kennedy Receives Honorary OLE Award

Dean Colleen Kennedy being recognized by OLE Committee
members Carlos Zalaquett and Victor Hernandez
Tampa, FL. (October 18, 2011). Dr. Colleen Kennedy, Dean of the College of Education at the University of South Florida, received an honorary Outstanding Latina Educator (OLE) Award at the 7th Annual Outstanding Latino/a Educator Awards event celebrated on October 12th, 2011 at the TECO Room in the College of Education.

The OLE Awards are given annually to students who have demonstrated exceptional performance and great potential in the areas of teaching, research, and service. One award is given at the undergraduate, masters, and doctoral level; and an honorary mention is also given in each category. The OLE Awards have become highly regarded and they are a source of pride for recipients, their families, faculty, the college, and for the community supporting the educational advancement of Latinos. For this year’s recipients you may visit a related posting about the 2011 OLE Awards.

This year, the OLE Awards Committee decided to also recognize Dean Colleen Kennedy as an honorary Outstanding Latina Educator for being instrumental in advancing Latino education. She has been a champion of the OLE Awards, and most importantly, she has been successful in promoting growing enrollment of Latino students in the College of Education and ensuring a steady attainment of degrees in education year after year. Over the past three years, undergraduate and graduate Latino enrollment in the College of Education has increased 14 and 15 percent, respectively; while degrees awarded to Latino students have remained relatively constant at about 100 plus per year counting both undergraduate and graduate degrees. In fact, the USDOE ranks the College of Education 15th in the nation for degrees awarded to Latino/Hispanic students.

To put these achievements in perspective, according to the Condition of Education 2011 report, Latino high school students continue to have the highest drop out rates in the nation compared to other groups. Further, in 2009, only 8.1% of the Hispanic population in the nation had earned a bachelor’s degree and only 3.8% had earned a doctoral degree. While the number of Spanish-speaking students in schools continues to grow at about 22%, and have become the largest minority in the United States—the number of Latino/a teachers remains very low. Only about 6% of the nation’s teachers are Hispanic.

Research suggests that the more Latino teachers we have in schools, the better Latino students do, and thus the relevant work of Dean Kennedy in the College of Education preparing more Latino teachers, as well as counselors, and other professionals needed in the field. For these reasons, the OLE Awards Committee presented Dean Kennedy with a symbolic award as a token of appreciation for a job well done. Ole!