SEHS to the Max

Behind Interim Dean Bob Maxfield’s desk there are children’s books that might be found in the classrooms and libraries of most elementary school. 

He is a teacher.

He talks about the strengths of the School of Education and Human Services, and their work that builds on the foundations left by his predecessors.



After stints as superintendent in both Farmington and Berkley school districts, Maxfield joined the faculty at OU in 2005.

Provost James Lentini, who had to look for a new interim dean after Mary Stein stepped down in the wake of plagiarism allegations, said Maxfield’s résumé and experience made him a fit.

“He had a very long and distinguished career in the public schools,” Lentini said. “Somebody with that kind of background carries automatic credibility. “



While Maxfield said it would be a mistake for anyone in his temporary position to come in with an agenda, he feels it is important to make people aware of changes that are already in motion.

He pointed to the creation of the department of leadership, a merger between the human resource development and educational leadership departments to focus on their commonalities.

“The educational leadership department at our school is the department that’s concerned with preparing people to be principals and superintendents, in other words to play that major leadership role,” Maxfield said. “The human resource development department, while it isn’t related specifically to education, is also concerned with the same thing. That is promoting leadership to unleash human potential in whatever organization. When we created this combined department of leadership, the idea was leaders are leaders.”

For this merger, Maxfield says they will meet this month to discuss collaboration between two of the school’s research centers, the Galileo Institute for Teacher Leadership and the Pawley Lean Institute

Maxfield also emphasises community.

“Sometimes other universities which are more research-oriented get into more esoteric, formal research studies,” he said. “We call it ‘practice to theory.’”


Real world test

One example of this approach of going into the surrounding area is OU’s partnership with Avondale School District to create a K-5 magnet school. This is intended to give OU’s education students an opportunity to test their skills in real-world situations.

“OU junior and senior students are attending classes in an elementary school where, the professor teaches whatever they’re teaching and then for part of the class session, students are actually out in the elementary school classrooms,” he said.

Meanwhile, the program is also being tested in other schools in the district.