UNC Charlotte's College of Education spent much of last year looking back to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
But all the while, as they were eating birthday cake and reminiscing about the college's humble beginnings, officials were looking ahead, too.
The 2010-11 year began the first year of the College of Education's Looking Forward Campaign, an effort to gain resources to continue the university's tradition of producing cutting-edge teachers.
Major gifts given to the college by donors this year were announced last month during a celebration at the chancellor's residence.
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The gifts include a $2 million donation, the largest single gift ever given to the College of Education. Bestowed by the Goudes estate to continue the Alma and Sharon Goudes Education Scholarship Fund, officials anticipate the gift will continue the tradition of generating 12 to 15 $5,000 scholarships each year for teachers in training.
A $1 million donation by Irwin Belk to create the Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Professorship in Urban Education will help the college further advance studies in urban education.
The Cato Teaching Discovery Mural will be installed next year outside the College of Education building, funded by a $300,000 donation from UNC Charlotte alumni John Cato, CEO of Cato Corp.
Mary Calhoun, dean of the college, said she hopes the donations will continue for the next two years of the campaign. "The next couple of years, we believe, will be great opportunities for people to make a $1,000 gift to honor a great teacher," she said.
Those who contribute $1,000 are encouraged to write a short piece describing a teacher who made an impact on them. The stories will be compiled into a volume honoring great teachers.
Calhoun said 25 $1,000 donations already have been given in recent months.
The college has seen dramatic growth in the number of students choosing teaching as a career. UNC Charlotte is now the second-largest producer of teachers in the state.
In the last academic year, more than 600 students graduated from UNC Charlotte as teachers. That number will pass 700 after summer sessions are complete.
"That growth has been quite rapid and dramatic," said Calhoun. "We've doubled the size of our teacher ed program within the decade."
Donations received during the next two years will foster the college's dedication to preparing future teachers for today's educational climate.
Beat the Heat. Norm's in the Student Union will host an ice cream social from noon to 2 p.m. Wednesday. Free.
Caviar and Fish Sticks. Exploring Perceptions of Class, a workshop studying social class attitudes, will be offered from 1:30-2:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Student Union in Room 262. Free.
Backpacking Trip scheduled. Hike along the Appalachian Trail from Thursday to next Sunday. Pre-trip meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Cost for UNC Charlotte students, $52; faculty, staff, and alumni, $80; community, $105. For more information, visit venture.uncc.edu.