This past weekend I had the distinct privilege of participating in a reunion of graduates of the USM Summer Program for Graduate Education (SPGE). Individuals attended from as far away as Australia, Alaska, and Michigan. It was great fun to meet the graduates and hear them enthusiastically recall their experiences at USM and detail the impact of those experiences on their lives.
There were several recurring themes throughout the weekend. First, the graduates expressed that the SPGE program deeply affected them and changed the direction of their lives. Their testimonies reaffirmed that we must continue to measure the value of the education we provide in the College of Education and Psychology by including those two metrics. We must remain committed to providing educational experiences that make a profound impact and lasting imprint on our students’ lives.
Secondly, SPGE graduates credited the quality of USM faculty as the primary reason for the powerful impact of the program. They described the faculty as accessible, responsive, and engaged. They shared entertaining examples of classes that were intellectually challenging and richly rewarding. Graduates singled out Drs. Art Sutherland, Harold Knight, Hershel Peddicord, Charles Davidson, Bobby Moore, and William “Bill” Ferguson. I was reminded that our profession affords opportunities every day for faculty, staff, and administrators to intentionally invest in students. The return on that investment is evident in the multiple ways that society benefits from an educated populace.
The last recurring theme involved the vision and legacy of Dr. Paul Peddicord, Director of SPGE, who was responsible for its creation in 1978. SPGE graduates lauded him for his leadership and work ethic. Their tributes accentuated the warmth he extended to students, the personal interest he expressed in their challenges and goals, and the diligence he demonstrated in ensuring a quality academic experience for SPGE students. Everyone understood that as an administrator and faculty member he intentionally invested in students. As a dean, I celebrate the faculty members in the College of Education and Psychology that emulate him.