New UWM center to help urban education administrators

A new Research Center for Urban Education Leadership Development is scheduled to open at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee this summer.

Alfonzo Thurman

The center, located in the School of Education’s Department of Administrative Leadership, will focus on helping education administrators in urban elementary and high schools as well as colleges and universities improve their leadership practices, according to Alfonzo Thurman, director of the new center. Thurman is a professor in the Department of Administrative Leadership and former dean of the School of Education.

“Numerous studies have shown that strong leadership is critical in the success of schools, particularly in urban areas,” says Thurman. “The mission of this center will be to conduct applied and empirical research and provide evaluations and assessments to inform school leadership about best practices in school leadership and assist them in adapting those practices.”

The center will conduct research on such areas as school administration, overseeing finances and establishing policy, and share that research with schools, school districts and departments of public instruction. In addition, the center will provide professional development to help improve school administrative and leadership practices.

In future, the center will explore developing a graduate certificate or degree, Thurman says.

In addition to Thurman, the faculty of the Department of Administrative Leadership will serve as members of the center, along with Barbara Bales, associate professor of curriculum and instruction, and Julianne Price of the College of Letters and Science’s Cultures and Communities Program. Affiliate faculty members will include Stafford Hood, professor and College of Education associate dean for research, University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, and Richard Schwab, endowed professor, University of Connecticut. A graduate assistant and program assistant will also be part of the center staff.

Thurman has extensive experience in researching and working on issues related to school leadership. He is past president of the Holmes Partnership, working with a national network of schools, teachers’ associations and other community organizations to improve teaching and learning.

He has also been a member of the board of directors for the Council of Academic Deans from Research Education Institutions (CADREI) and the American Association for Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE), and served on the national faculty for the professional development of deans of education.

While dean at UWM, Thurman convened the Metropolitan Milwaukee Area Deans of Education (MMADE), an outgrowth of his work with the Milwaukee Partnership Academy.