O'Dea's contribution to Education a lasting legacy

Finding a way to coax Dr. Jane O'Dea to talk about herself as she reflects on her 10 years as dean of the Faculty of Education is a lesson in futility. Only within the context of describing the faculty's achievements will she discuss her stewardship, and even then, she'll deflect credit away from the individual to that of the collective.

"It's not so much what I achieved over the 10 years, rather it's what we all achieved together," says O'Dea.

"I'm tremendously proud of the things we accomplished because they were achievements that involved every single faculty member and all of our support staff."

Recognizing she was inheriting a faculty with a long and proud tradition, and balancing that with a need to create new and innovative programming that would reflect emerging educational challenges was a juggling act that O'Dea mastered.

"I was tremendously fortunate to become dean of a faculty that has a fabulous tradition of collaboration and partnership with the professional community," she says of the faculty relationship with Alberta Education's Zone 6 schools and teachers. "That isn't something I brought about, that's something the founding members of the faculty created. It was my privilege to come in both as a faculty member and later as dean, become familiar with those structures, realize how important they were and then use that as a foundation to work with our faculty in moving forward."

One of the great legacies of O'Dea's leadership is the establishment of First Nations programming, specifically through the creation of the Niitsitapi Teacher Education and the First Nations, Metis and Inuit (FNMI) graduate programs.

"She made First Nations education one of the priorities of her deanship," says Education faculty member Dr. Cathy Campbell. "She succeeded in developing relationships with the Blackfoot speaking nations, initiating collaborative work and programming with Red Crow College, and bringing issues in First Nations education to the forefront of discussions at the University and in the province."