College of Education Dean Gregg Garn talks about his background
The OU Daily sat down on Thursday with Gregg Garn, the new dean of the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education. He discussed his background in education, his plans for the college and his approach to his profession’s ethics.
Melodie Lettkeman, The Oklahoma Daily
The Daily: What brought you to Oklahoma? More importantly, what brought you to OU?
Garn: This is my 13th year at OU and I came here as an assistant professor because OU is an incredible university... The opportunity to work here as I graduated from graduate school was just a great opportunity for me.
The Daily: As dean, how do you plan to make a mark on your college?
Garn: One of the things I want our college to focus on as much as anything is impact. Our faculty has a tremendous impact on the research in their fields. We have some of the best faculty across the country here. We also have an impact in local classrooms and one of the things I want us to continue to focus on in this college is impacts on both of those levels, making sure we are contributing to that national conversation on what we need to be doing in education and also locally impacting the kinds of good things that are going on in education in the state of Oklahoma.
The Daily: How did you become involved in the field of education?
Garn: Well my undergraduate degree is in education and ... the idea that I’ve always had is that this is where you can make an impact. Whether the impact is in a classroom, whether the impact is at a school level, whether the impact is participating on a state level board, just that fundamental idea of how can you help to improve education has been the thing that’s driven me in a lot of the decisions I’ve made about what to participate in.
The Daily: Has any specific ethic or philosophy guided you to this point in your career?
Garn:The thing that I think about a lot in terms of work ethic is that it’s not a single person. I think if one person tries to do everything, you’re not going to be terrifically successful. There are amazing people in this office and across this university and what I’ve found really successful is collaborating with other people helps everybody’s work ethic because you’re able to get a lot more accomplished than if just one person is responsible. It also gives you great insight into the really good things that are going on across campus, so instead of getting siloed just in your department or just in the college of education, you are able to collaborate across campus.
The Daily: What did you want to be when you grew up? (Did you ever think you would be a professor or a dean?)
Garn: I came from a family of teachers so I think education was probably in there somewhere. That’s a good question; you know I was probably the traditional athlete or fireman or something like that. No, you know as soon as I was able to have some insight as to what I wanted to do it was definitely going to be an education related field and I’ve just been blessed in a million ways to be able to do that.
The Daily: How do you plan to balance your duties as director of the K20 Center and as dean of the College of Education?
Garn: I think there is a huge benefit to the things that are going on at the K20 center and the things that are going on in the college of education and being able to blend some of the two activities together ... So I think synergy is a word that I use a lot in thinking about bringing those two organizations together to really focus on. Whether it is professional development for a teacher in the classroom or helping a pre-service teacher, someone who wants to be a teacher, making sure that they have skills and mentoring and knowledge to be hugely successful when they go out into their first classroom.