From the Dean

Portrait photo of Camilla Benbow
Camilla P. Benbow, Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean of Education and Human Development

The Peabody Reflector returns with this fall 2023 digital issue. While the print magazine has been on hiatus since the Covid pandemic, the Peabody College community most certainly has not. Over the past three years, we have taken significant steps toward building a better world through education, scholarship, and nurturing human flourishing.

The most noteworthy of steps is the unprecedented gift from Hal and Marjorie Hollis Roberts to establish the Roberts Academy and Dyslexia Center focused on outreach and dyslexia research. The Roberts Academy will provide educational services for children in kindergarten through grade 1 identified as at-risk for dyslexia and for students in grades 2–5 who have been identified as having dyslexia. It will accept its first class of students in fall 2024. The Roberts Academy and Dyslexia Center also will leverage cutting edge research by Peabody scholars and catalyze new knowledge to support the academic success of students with dyslexia.

The Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center—led by Cynthia Osborne, professor of early childhood education and policy and the center’s executive director—further empowers our commitment to early childhood research. Cynthia and her team of policy experts and researchers joined Peabody College in 2022. Guided by the science of the developing child, the center serves as a resource for states as they adopt and implement the most effective policies to ensure that all children thrive from the start.

While the Roberts Academy and Dyslexia Center and the Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center reflect Peabody’s leadership in early childhood research and policy and in learning differences in the U.S., we know that fulfilling our commitment to building a better world requires our robust collaboration with global partners. That is why, in 2022, we began working with the American University of Iraq—Baghdad to help design and launch AUIB’s college of education and human development focused on training and supporting the next generation of educators in Iraq. AUIB hired Peabody alumna Allison Webster-Giddings as dean of the college and Peabody alumna Pallavi Reddy as assistant professor. Together, they will launch the college, with classes beginning in spring 2024. Students will engage in evidence-based practices and approaches to strengthen educational opportunities in Iraq, the region, and across the globe.

Just as our domestic and global engagements are ever-growing, our local partnership to advance education and human development throughout Nashville has made critical progress toward that end. Earlier this year, the Nashville Partnership for Educational Equity Research—Peabody’s research-practice partnership with Metro Nashville Public Schools—received its first major grant from the William T. Grant Foundation to study early postsecondary opportunity offerings, access, and success in MNPS and to design solutions for addressing disparities. A key lever for increasing postsecondary enrollment and completion, EPSOs are high school academic offerings that expose students to advanced coursework and build their foundational career skills.

Growing our faculty has been a key priority to expand on these efforts and to continue to put Peabody’s ideas into action. Across 2022 and 2023, we hired a total of 37 new faculty members spread throughout our five departments. As I reflect on all we have accomplished together these past several years, I am deeply grateful to the Peabody community, and I welcome our new colleagues in our mission to enhance the human condition, both near and far.

Camilla Persson Benbow

Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean of Education and Human Development