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When One Leader Exits and Another Emerges: How NLU’s McCormick Center Spent 4 Years Planning For Succession

 

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Paula Jorde Bloom, left, and Sue Offutt pose at an NLU reception in honor of Bloom’s 30 years of service and retirement.

 

Paula Jorde Bloom founded NLU’s McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership in 1985, and led it for its entire existence until now. So what happens when a founder decides to retire? She follows her own advice, as outlined in her books and thought leadership, and brings in her successor for thorough training (four years’ worth) before she takes the reins.

In their own words, here are what both women had to say about that experience.

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Celebrating Paula Bloom’s 30 Years As A Leader In Early Childhood Education

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As Paula Bloom, Ph.D., left, retires, Sue Offutt, Ph.D., will take over the helm of the McCormick Center. The two spent four years mapping out the transition.

 

There were lots of hugs, laughter and even a few tears as the NLU and McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership communities celebrated Paula Jorde Bloom’s  (Ph.D.) 30 years at NLU and her retirement.

“She’s an icon and a rock star,” said Chip Donahue, Ph.D., dean of distance learning and technology at Erikson Institute. “You just need to say ‘Paula’ and everyone in the field knows who you mean.”

Bloom has been a national leader in the effort to professionalize the field of Early Childhood Education, both through her own teaching and mentoring and her leadership at the McCormick Center, which trains and coaches early childhood administrators, evaluates early childhood centers, performs research and advocates for quality early childhood education.

Much of the work is in creating standards for quality early childhood programming, and supporting the teachers and administrators who deliver it to children and families.

Bloom, who has written many books on Early Childhood Education and served on boards of national associations in the field, is retiring, but will still be available for advisement, and will continue to serve on some association boards.

The celebration was held Sept. 12 at the University Club in Chicago.

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Bloom poses with Safiyah Jackson, director of training for NCE grants, at Bloom’s retirement celebration.

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A luncheon honoring Paula Jorde Bloom, Ph.D., on her 30th anniversary at NLU and retirement was held at the University Club.

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Nivine Megahed, Ph.D., NLU president, welcomed guests to Paula Jorde Bloom’s anniversary and retirement celebration.

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Paula Jorde Bloom told attendees that it took her eight weeks to pack up her office, and she savored memories brought back by old photos, books and even a microfiche.

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NLU and McCormick Center faculty and staff, and other Early Childhood Education experts, greeted each other at Bloom’s celebration.

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Sue Offutt, Ph.D., director of the McCormick Center, welcomed McCormick faculty to the front area at the luncheon.

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Bloom reminisces with McCormick Center faculty at her celebration luncheon. (Photos by Nick Love.)

Watch the NLU Alumni Magazine for an in-depth story on how she created her life’s work.

A new chapter for online learning at NLU

shutterstock_97376669The power of online learning in higher education is undeniable. Classes hosted via the Web grant more flexibility to students — particularly working adults, who are trying to juggle their studies with busy lives. They give faculty the chance to bring in other media — video, audio and message boards — to better engage students. And institutions may benefit by increasing their reach beyond campus without paying for new buildings in other locations.

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Improv is finding a home at NLU

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Chicago remains the undisputed capital of improv comedy — a place that for decades has attracted top talent, developed it on local stages, and sent it along to television and the big screen. With a priority on audience engagement and performing in the moment, improv also develops skills that have real applications off stage. It’s an idea that’s catching on at NLU.

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