By Miguel Gonzalez
After nearly four years of serving as dean of the School of Education, Jeff Passe is departing from his accomplished time at the College.
“My first initiative was to increase communication between all counselors, educators, administrators and supervisors,” Passe said. “Bringing all these people together was the first step to creating change. The next goal was consulting with fellow deans, talking to students, sharing ideas and emphasizing group learning.”
Before his appointment as dean on July 1, 2013, Passe held numerous leadership positions, which includes chair of the department of secondary education at Towson University and president of the National Council for Social Studies.
Passe credits his experience at the National Council for Social Studies for his focus on civic education and social studies he implemented at the College.
“A lot work had to be done with spreading civil education and social studies,” Passe said. “I thought about the best strategies for children to learn about civic duty.”
During his time at the College, Passe also focused on increasing the School of Education’s contribution to Trenton Public Schools. He strived for the College to emulate Columbia University’s service to the New York City Department of Education and UCLA’s service to the Los Angeles Unified School District.
“I wanted the School of Education to strengthen its connection to Trenton,” Passe said. “Larger schools such as UCLA and Columbia University have strongly supported their co-existing communities. Our institution is more than capable of serving, educating and volunteering for Trenton’s Public Schools.”
Passe placed an emphasis on helping middle school students because he believes that they are most vulnerable to outside distractions.
“The middle school phase is such an important stage in a child’s education. In my experience as an educator and researcher, I’ll witness many middle school children lose focus,” he said. “Our school counters the trend by implementing workshops.”
This emphasis on middle school students allowed for the College’s School of Education to better connect with the local community.
“He wanted to engage with the local community,” said Corey Drake, project coordinator of the dean’s office. “Dean Passe sincerely cares about the people here and pursuing the common good.”
Passe also contributed immensely to the department of counselor education. In his tenure, the dean helped renew the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs accreditation of three master’s degree programs in the department of counselor education.
The master’s degree programs of clinical mental health counseling and marriage, couple & family counseling and school counseling have CACREP accreditation until Oct. 31, 2021.
“Dean Passe was very supportive of us,” said Sandy Gibson, an associate professor in the department of counselor education and the clinical coordinator of the TCNJ Clinic. “He worked hard to write grants and helped three Master’s programs earn CACREP accreditation.”
In addition to his contribution to the department of counselor education, Passe supported the College’s Career and Community Studies program.
“Dean Passe has always been supportive of the CCS Program,” said Stuart Carroll, associate professor in the department of elementary and early childhood education and an affiliated faculty member for the CCS program. “He was instrumental in having the CCS students integrated into college housing and has always worked with CCS faculty and staff to ensure that CCS students have access to all academic and social opportunities to which they are entitled as members of the TCNJ student body.”
Carroll is confident that the subsequent dean will sustain the CCS program’s mission of delivering mentorship, academic rigor and guidance to CCS students.
“Dean Passe has already begun to prepare an information packet on CCS and other programs for the incoming dean and CCS program faculty and staff will meet with the new dean as soon as he arrives,” Carroll said. “We believe that CCS offers abundant benefits to its students and to the rest of the TCNJ student body and are confident that a new dean will be able to appreciate these. To be honest, CCS is one of the things that makes TCNJ as special as it is and it is hard to imagine that any transition would harm the program.”
Passe’s colleagues appreciate his dedication to the CCS program.
“He’s very invested to his position,” said Victoria Swift, student life coordinator of the CCS program. “Dean Passe goes to great lengths to make sure that everyone is included and respected at meetings. He invites all departments and highlights long-term research and recent accomplishments. He makes it feel like family.”
Passe also expanded the College’s off-site graduate programs and sent more students to study abroad programs.
“Similarly, Dean Passe has always supported our graduate global programs in Mallorca, Thailand, Taiwan, Egypt and Vietnam,” Carroll said. “These programs are bigger than ever, both because of strong enrollments from teachers throughout the world and participation by New Jersey students who are looking for an international experience. Dean Passe has also supported global student teaching and has sent large numbers of students to schools in Italy, Thailand, Switzerland, France, etc.”
Aside from his work, Passe appreciates the feedback he received regarding decision making.
“I would not have been able to make informed decisions without input from everyone at the School of Education,” Passe said.
Passe also offered advice for graduating seniors in the College’s School of Education: “Be the best teacher you can be. Respect all of your administrators and stay active in your local communities.”