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Margaret Crocco calls herself a “great lover of America.”

And she’s seen a lot of it.

Born in the Midwest, Crocco eventually moved to the East Coast, and she will now return to the Heartland to begin her tenure as the 15th dean of the University of Iowa College of Education.

UI interim Provost P. Barry Butler announced Crocco as the successor to Dean Sandra Damico on Thursday.

Crocco first visited Iowa City in March 2010, when she traveled from New York to conduct a workshop on democratic dialogue and civic engagement at the UI.

“I, of course, had known about the university for years but had never visited,” she said. “The university, Iowa City, the College of Education, the faculty I met there were all very impressive.”

Crocco was one of 100 candidates who applied for the position and one of four brought to campus. She currently serves as professor and head of the Department of Arts and Humanities at Teachers College, Columbia University.

“I thought it might be a good fit,” Crocco said. “When I came to campus in February [as a finalist], I was struck by all the great assets that the College of Education has.”

While the move from the Big Apple to Iowa may seem like a large one for some, this will be like a homecoming for the Elgin, Ill., native. She will take on the new position July 1.

“Professor Crocco will bring a vast amount of expertise, energy, and enthusiasm for the field of education to the position of dean, especially given her outstanding track record and proven leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University,” said UI President Sally Mason in a release.

The future dean said she is prepared to blend the old and new into a philosophy that will move the education school forward.

“I want to build on the progress that [Damico] has made with some of her new initiatives,” Crocco said. “I’m hoping that I will be able to move progress in the areas of technology forward.”

Stressing that technology in the classroom will play an crucial role, Crocco will try to further technology plans set in place by Damico.

“They’re introducing us to a lot of new technology, such as smart boards, which are slowly replacing black and white boards,” said UI junior Jenna Aude. “It’s really vital for an education major to have technology in the classroom.”

The advancements in teaching technology use to education students puts the school, ranked 21st among U.S. public universities, in the upper echelon of the field.

“We will be ahead of students from around the state,” Aude said

The announcement was met with optimism by the education faculty. That Crocco plans to change the current route of the school will make the transition an easy one.

“She has great credentials, and we are very excited to have her,” said Associate Professor Leslie Schrier said. “There is great optimism for the change.”

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