Dean of College of Education encourages student senate to create social impact

By Jess Hodge | 10/2/16 9:54pm

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GVL/Mackenzie Bush - Student Senate convenes Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016

by Mackenzie Bush / Grand Valley Lanthorn

‘Walking the walk’ was the topic of conversation at Grand Valley State University’s student senate meeting Thursday, Sept. 29.

Barry Kanpol, the new dean of the College of Education at GVSU since July, spoke to the student senators about his new role, his goals for the College of Education and his personal narrative.

Kanpol stressed the importance of educators being able to “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk.”

As a high school dropout, Kanpol experienced how much of an impact school and education had on a student. He grew up in Australia, then lived in Israel, where he eventually got a basketball scholarship to go to a university there.

“I got a BA in (English) literature and history, the two subjects I dropped out of in high school,” he said. “Something wasn’t right, folks. Schools were preparing kids, but they were preparing certain kinds of kids.”

Now, Kanpol is dedicated to studying the role of schools “in the social order” and the impact it has on communities.

“When we say ‘we want to make a difference,’ who are we making a difference for and why are we making a difference?” he said. “When we say in the culture of education we believe in social justice, what the heck do you mean by ‘talking to talk?’ Do you ‘walk the talk?”

By ‘walking the talk,’ Kanpol is referring to actually doing things rather than just talking about doing them. He wants to reach out into the community, he wants to restore social justice and make a positive impact on every student’s life.

“I’m passionate about this. I want my faculty to be passionate about this. And I want them to walk the walk and not just talk the talk,” Kanpol said. “That means we have to look for structures of leadership. We have to look for structures of where we make impact. We have to document that (and) we have to intentionally move into communities.

Kanpol, although only having been in his current position for a few months, has readily grasped the concept of the Laker Effect and encouraged the student senators to walk the walk. He said the Laker Effect is real if GVSU can walk the walk, but otherwise, “its not real unless change is documented.”

“So, my short-terms goals are to re-structure the College of Education so that its manageable so that it's mentor-able (and) so that it's impactful,” he said.

“My long term goals will be things like create a center for English as a second language (and) conduct serious and impactful research.”

Vice president of senate resources Jeremy Turnbull questioned Kanpol as how student senate, as leaders on campus, can positively impact the climate at GVSU.

Kanpol’s response was for people to own up to their mistakes, and to practice what they are trying to implement.

“That power is personal, but its also institutional,” Kanpol said. “Where do we have the right if we can't own up to who we are, then how do change the institution we’re in?”

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