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Quality Leadership Matters

The University Council for Educational Administration is a consortium of higher education institutions committed to advancing the preparation and practice of educational leaders for the benefit of schools and children. We welcome you to our knowledge portal.


Partnerships Enriching the Relevancy of Programs

In this second installment on new UCEA members in 2013, I highlight two programs that share a commitment to co-constructing content and field experiences with community partners. Both programs are exemplars in how they leverage partnerships with local non-profits, in the case of Southern Methodist University, and with local school districts, in the case of the University of Denver. While partnerships require an investment of time and energy to develop, faculty are finding that the results are more relevant and robust programs that have an impact on schools in their local communities.

 Southern Methodist University                              PSR: Dan Berebitsky

  • The mission of Southern Methodist University’s Department of Education Policy and is to integrate theory, research, and practice in the preparation of education professionals. 
  • The Department of Education Policy and Leadership (EPL) department currently offers three Master’s degree programs; the Accelerated School Leadership Program and the Urban School Leadership Program focus on K-12 principal preparation.
  • The Urban School Leadership is a program born with a sense of passion and urgency in response to the leadership vacuum that often exists in struggling schools--particularly those in urban settings. The program is a joint venture between the Teaching Trust (a local non-profit) and the EPL department. The Teaching Trust is dedicated to the improvement of leadership development for struggling schools working to improve the achievement gap between low-income under-represented students and students of greater privilege.

University of Denver                                          PSR: Susan Korach

  • The Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) program in the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver aims to prepare courageous, visionary, and transformative leaders in educational settings at all levels of the education system. To achieve this, they offer intensive, integrated academic and field-based experiences and project-based learning.
  • The Ritchie Program for School Leaders has been recognized nationally as “one of the nation’s premier principal preparation programs as well as a model of university-district collaboration.”
  • The Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) program offers an academic certificate in principal licensure through two options of principal preparation programs (Executive Leadership for Successful Schools and Ritchie Program for School Leaders) as well as a Master of Arts degree, and EdD and PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.

2014 William J. Davis Award Recipients

Anysia Peni Mayer1, Morgaen L. Donaldson1, Kimberly LeChasseur1, Anjalé D. Welton2, & Casey D. Cobb1

Receive EAQ’s William J. Davis Award

Congratulations to recipients of the 2014 William J. Davis Award!  The William J. Davis Award is given annually to the authors of the most outstanding article published in Educational Administration Quarterly (EAQ) during the preceding volume year.  The Davis Award was established in 1979 with contributions in honor of the late William J. Davis, former Associate Director of UCEA and Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  This year, the award was presented during the AERA Division A Business Meeting by UCEA President Mark Gooden.

Mayer, A. P., Donaldson, M. L., LeChasser, K., Welton, A. D., & Cobb, C. D. (2013, December) Negotiating site-based management and expanded teacher decision making: A case study of six urban schools. Educational Administration Quarterly (EAQ), 49, 695-731. doi:10.1177/0013161X13492793

Anysia Peni Mayer, University of Connecticut, 249 Glennbrook Rd., Unit 2093, Storrs, CT 06269, USA. Email:

Anysia Peni Mayer, Morgaen L. Donaldson, Kimberly LeChasseur, Anjalé D. Welton, and Casey D. Cobb presented findings from a study of six schools in the Together Initiative (TI), which facilitates increased school autonomy from districts and expands teacher decision-making authority. This study aimed to understand how TI’s theory of action changed structures, cultures, and agency as the concepts of site-based management and expanded teacher decision making were interpreted and implemented by district and school leaders and teachers. The authors collected data over the first 2 years of the initiative using a concurrent mixed-methods design. They coded field notes from more than 200 hours of observations and transcripts of 231 semi-structured interviews with stakeholders were using the constant-comparative method. They then triangulated findings from qualitative data with annual teacher survey findings.

The data revealed that the implementation of TI varied across the six schools and depended greatly on school staffs’ existing relationships with the district, the principal’s support for decision-making structures, and the extent to which school cultures reflected trust so that teachers were able to enact greater agency. Only two schools experienced moderate increases in site-based management and expanded teacher decision making; those that did not were missing at least one of these structural or cultural supports.

At a time when charter schools are touted as an effective reform model, this article informs policy and practice on the original charter concept—autonomous, innovative district schools. Findings from this study suggest that creating contexts where site-based management can flourish is far more complicated than changing structures or establishing supportive school cultures.

1University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, USA
2University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL, USA

College costs increase at about twice the inflation rate. 

Headlines like the one above are not surprising to UCEA members.  

  • How are your insitutions, departments, and leadership programs thinking about and addressing this issue? 
  • What changes in your student populations have you noticed as prices have increased?  
  • Have you noted other changes?


JCEL Spotlight Interview with Dr. Brett Geier

JCEL Spotlight Interview with Dr. Brett Geier (Listen to the interview here.)

Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership ( March 2014 Spotlight Interview series - The Wall Between Church and State Begins to Crumble: One Small Community's Struggle With Sectarian Influence in the Public School


Call for Nominations: The 2014 Exemplary University-Based Educational Leadership Preparation Award

Quality leadership preparation is essential to quality leadership practice. Research reveals an important relationship between preparation and leaders’ career outcomes, practices and school improvement efforts. Exemplary university-based educational leadership preparation programs have authentic, powerful and field-embedded learning experiences that connect research and theory with practice. To celebrate exemplary programs and encourage their development, UCEA has established an Award for Exemplary Educational Leadership Preparation.  This award compliments UCEA’s core mission to advance the preparation and practice of educational leaders for the benefit of all children and schools.

Leadership educators are invited to nominate their programs for recognition at the 2014 UCEA Conference. The program or programs (up to three) judged as most worthy of recognition will receive a significant cash award. In addition, the award winning program(s) will be recognized at a session during the 2014 UCEA Convention, on the UCEA website, and through a case-study publication.

This award will be made to programs within colleges, schools and department of education. For example, university-based programs preparing leaders to lead in elementary, middle or high schools, or programs focusing on the development of district level leadership are eligible for recognition. More than one program within a department, school or college of education may apply.

Award Criteria:  Contributions will be judged on the extent to which the program: 1) reflects current research on the features, content, and experiences associated with effective leadership preparation, and 2) has demonstrated evidence of program effectiveness.  The Handbook of Research on the Education of School Leaders (Young, Crow, Murphy and Ogawa, 2009) addresses both of these criteria in depth. Please visit The Exemplary Educational Leadership Preparation Award page for the full set of award criteria.

Application Procedure:  To nominate your program, please visit The Exemplary Educational Leadership Preparation Award page of the UCEA website and follow the below instructions:


Step One: Read through the award criteria and instructions

Step Two: Submit a statement of intent to apply (through the link) by May 23, 2014.  Upon receipt of a program’s intent to submit an Award Application, the program contact will be invited to an Award Dropbox Folder folder where program application materials should be deposited.

Step Three: Prepare Parts I-V of the Award Application as described at the above url.

Step Four:  Save each part of the Award Application as an individual PDF file in the designated Award Dropbox Folder .  Please note each file should be named according to the corresponding part of the Award Application (e.g., Part.I.PDF, Part.II.PDF, etc.)

Please Note: All materials must be submitted by June 27, 2014