New Dean Appointed to the Bahrain Teachers College
May 6, 2018
After a few years without a permanent dean, the Bahrain Teachers College welcomed in January 2018 Dr. Ted Purinton as its new dean. Purinton succeeds Dr. Abderrahim Abbas, Dean of Admissions and Registration at the University of Bahrain, who also served for two years at Acting Dean of the Bahrain Teachers College.
Purinton comes to the Bahrain Teachers College from the American University in Cairo, where he served as Dean of the Graduate School of Education, and previously, as Associate Provost, responsible for the university's academic administration, institutional partnerships, academic policies, strategic initiatives, online and MOOC offerings, accreditations, study abroad programs, and international student and faculty mobility.
What makes Purinton's appointment so unique is that his research has focused explicitly on the general challenges that the Bahrain Teachers College has experienced over its first ten years. His primary area of research is on the professionalization of teaching, and in particular, the role that faculties of education play in promoting teaching quality in schools. He has also done significant work on the internationalization of higher education and has consulted for many universities on global rankings and higher education leadership. Just before his arrival in Bahrain, his latest two books were published: one on leadership of American international universities, and another on community-focused school leadership.
At a time when the Bahrain Teachers College is examining its first ten years and planning for its next ten, the new dean has an ambitious agenda for how the College can contribute directly to school improvement in Bahrain. "The faculties of education that are most effective at this time are those that do not see themselves stuck in ivory towers but are instead engaged deeply and meaningfully on the ground in schools and classrooms," said Purinton. "I am here because I believe strongly that Bahrain has immense potential and can realize it through continuing enhancement of its teaching workforce. This will only happen through a faculty of education that is both scholarly and practical at the same time."
Purinton gained a lot of experience in the reform of faculties of education when he was the chair of the Department of Educational Administration at the National Louis University of Chicago, a historic institution that had immense influence on public education quality in Chicago since the 19th Century. In the midst of a statewide reform of teacher education in Illinois while he was on the faculty, Purinton had to work closely with multiple school districts, including the massive Chicago Public School system, along with state legislators and other political leaders to shape academic programs that were both academically rigorous and applicable to the professional practice of educators. "I had to look toward the future to ensure the sustainability of our programs. If we were stuck in tradition, we would have been sidelined by competing institutions," explained Purinton. The doctoral and masters programs in his department were redesigned in a way that promoted significant improvement in the leadership capacity of district superintendents and school principals.
Purinton is especially excited to be supporting the University of Bahrain in its transformation plan. Having presided over a graduate program in comparative and international education in Egypt, whereby students learn how to develop systems and improve educational processes, Purinton sees incredible potential in the University of Bahrain. Purinton stated, "Around the GCC, we see a lot of importing of programs and universities from abroad. While they may carry brand names, they are not sustainable and they will not significantly impact education quality. Bahrain is different: by building up its main national institution, the University of Bahrain, and by implanting its teaching college in that national institution, Bahrain made a very wise choice. We all know that what works in the UK, for example, will not directly and automatically work here. We need a distinctly Bahraini model of higher education, and the University of Bahrain is delivering successfully on that."
As for living in Bahrain, Purinton is very happy: "I loved living in Cairo for seven years, and I loved living in Chicago and Los Angeles previously. But Bahrain is special. It is a peaceful country filled with diverse and extremely friendly people. My family, especially, enjoys the beautiful weather, the plethora of cultural activities, and the amazing restaurants." Purinton seems to be settling in well to the new position, already having attended the Bahrain National Day Celebration, the anniversary of the National Charter, and the latest graduation of the Bahrain Teachers College.