Dean Jon Pedersen
Growing up on a farm in Nebraska, Jon Pedersen attended kindergarten through eighth grade in a one-room schoolhouse, taking care of farm chores before heading to school.
Pedersen, who was named dean of the University of South Carolina’s College of Education on Thursday, says that experience — and a career in education in Nebraska — taught him the importance of education, especially in rural communities.
“It’s been wonderful to have that kind of background, and it fits well with what I hope to help accomplish in South Carolina.” he says.
Pedersen comes to Carolina from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he was the associate dean for research in the College of Education and Human Sciences and director of science education for the Center of Mathematics, Science and Computer Education. Looking at science through a lens of social impact and how people use that knowledge to influence their lives and communities has been a focus of his work. He takes over as dean July 1.
After studying agriculture at the University of Nebraska, he became a high school chemistry teacher, reaching 150 kids a year and wondering how many more people he could reach. “I had some very influential teachers and professors who encouraged me to get advanced degrees,” he says. “Being involved in nurturing individual talents led me into administration and leadership, which for me is all about building a culture of collaboration and helping faculty, students and staff find and reach their potential.”
Pedersen sees opportunities for the university’s College of Education to build prominence through innovative research and to bring world-class education to communities around the state through collaborations and partnerships to address the needs of all South Carolinians. “We will be looking to partner with other colleges, communities and individuals to address the challenges that families, schools and children in South Carolina face,” he says.
Pedersen says he was drawn to South Carolina because of the respect that the College of Education has nationally. “As I began my journey towards becoming a dean, the University of South Carolina was at the top of my list. It is a premier institution and college with wonderful colleagues where I can continue to grow. My wife and I are tremendously excited to become part of the university and College of Education family.”
Still an early riser from his childhood on the farm, Pedersen is an avid runner, rising at 4 a.m. to complete 3- to 5-mile runs several times a week. He also is an avid snow-skier.
The College of Education has more than 110 faculty in four departments and serves approximately 2,300 students.
Pedersen succeeds Lemuel Watson, who has served as dean since 2011.