Great Expectations
School of Leadership and Education Sciences building is Dean Cordeiro’s longtime dream
by Krystn Shrieve

photo by Marshall Williams

When Paula Cordeiro joined USD in 1998 as dean of what is now the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the school was housed in Harmon Hall, a building so small that two portable trailers housed the overflow from the school’s 15 faculty members and 500 students.

Over the years, the school increased in numbers and added areas of focus and study. It created new centers and new ways to reach out to the community. It changed locations and even its name. In time, the number of faculty and students doubled, and they were spread across campus; some in Alcalá West, some in the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice and some in Serra Hall.

So Cordeiro adapted. She got a golf cart to visit colleagues. She scheduled meetings across campus for her burgeoning faculty. She began hosting monthly dinner-with-the-dean events that students referred to as “Pizza with Paula.”

But finally, after years of finding ways to work effectively with her students and staff, Cordeiro was overjoyed to break ground in April on a $36 million, 80,000-square-foot building for the school.

Cordeiro lights up when she talks about plans for the two-story building that will open west of Copley Library in Fall 2007.

“This is beyond belief for me,” Cordeiro says. “I’m so glad we’ll finally be together. For some of my colleagues, it’s been 20 years in coming. I feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven.”

Cordeiro’s well-worn copy of the building plans represents the possibilities of both the school as well as the building. The first floor opens onto a sala, or living room, with a moveable, raised platform where speakers can address a large forum. That floor also features a 190-seat auditorium, a tiered classroom, an executive training classroom, project rooms, state-of-the-art classrooms with the latest technology and much more. The second floor includes additional classrooms, faculty office space and a reading room.

The new building will allow SOLES to continue strengthening its four areas of focus — education, leadership, counseling and marriage and family therapy.

“This is recruitment season for new faculty,” Cordeiro says. “After I talked to one person about what our plans are, she said, ’I can’t believe everything you’re doing. Elsewhere, schools of ed feel so last century, but this feels like the future.’”