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AACTE Welcomes New Dean in Residence to National Office

Leslie T. Fenwick, PhDI am excited to welcome Leslie T. Fenwick, Ph.D. who will serve as the first AACTE dean in residence at the National Office beginning this month. I invite you to join me in welcoming her to the AACTE team as we enhance our services to meet the current needs of deans leading colleges of education. Leslie is dean emeritus of the Howard University School of Education and a tenured professor of educational policy and leadership. In a short interview, she took time to share her perspectives about her new role by providing responses to the following questions. 

What is your vision for the new role as the AACTE dean in residence?

I’m so invigorated by AACTE’s new vision statement to collaborate with its members and partners to revolutionize education for all learners. What a gift to be part of AACTE as it launches in this direction at this particular time, when our PK-12 public schools are the most diverse the nation has ever seen. What will it take to revolutionize education for this new generation of students who are more likely to be bilingual, kids of color, and from families experiencing poverty?

Why did you make the commitment to serve in this role?

AACTE has consistently held value for me as I advanced professionally. I attended my first meeting in 1994 as a newly appointed assistant professor. Decades later when I was appointed dean, I attended AACTE’s New Deans Institute (which was absolutely essential to my development as a dean). During my 9-year tenure as dean, I served two terms on AACTE’s board of directors. Each step along the way, I found AACTE to be a place where I learned, connected and could make a difference in educator preparation at the national level. I began my career as a 4th grade and (later) junior high school teacher. AACTE’s work shapes what new generations of teachers will learn and be able to achieve in America’s classrooms. All of this excites and motivates me to serve as dean in residence.

How will your work in this role be important to advancing educator preparation?

Our nation is experiencing a flashpoint ignited by demographic shifts; profound advances in artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies; and the worldwide concentration of wealth and expansion of poverty. These national realities deeply affect schools and the students and families they serve. I hope to be part of AACTE’s effort to advance educator preparation in novel ways so that today’s educators and the next generation of educators are better equipped to serve a more diverse population of students that lives in a profoundly different and interconnected world.

A former visiting scholar and visiting fellow at Harvard University, Leslie holds an invited appointment as a MCLC Senior Fellow at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point where she lectures about character leadership and ethics. Additionally, she is a 2014 Salzburg Global Fellow and a member of the 1999 cohort of American university administrators invited to the University of Oxford (Exeter College) to discuss ethics and leadership. Leslie is the 2011 recipient of the W.E.B. DuBois Award for Leadership in Higher Education. She earned a Ph.D. in educational policy and leadership from The Ohio State University where she was a Flescher Fellow and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Virginia.

A nationally-known education policy and leadership studies scholar and former urban K-12 school teacher and administrator, Leslie is co-founder of the Howard University American Association of School Administrators (AASA) Urban Superintendents Academy and a past member of the Harvard University Principals Center Advisory Board. Notably, she served as an appointed member of the National Academy of Sciences committee that produced the first study about mayoral control of Washington, D.C. Public Schools.

Leslie is described as a “fearless” advocate for education equity and is regularly called upon to testify about educational equity and college access to the U.S. Senate, National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), U.S. Conference of Mayors, National Urban League, Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Education Writers Association (EWA), National Education Association (NEA), National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), and the National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE). Additionally, she has been an invited speaker at the National Press Club, the Washington Lawyers’ Committee on Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, and the Washington Policy Seminar.

Leslie is a contributor to the best-selling book, The Last Word: Controversy and Commentary in American Education. Her op-ed articles about education, the economy, and urban development have appeared in the Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Education Week, The Huffington Post, and Diverse Issues in Higher Education. Her forthcoming book, Jim Crow’s Pink Slip: Public Policy and the Near Decimation of Black Educational Leadership after Brown, has been cited by the New York Times and Education Week, and the Center for American Progress has referenced her research. In keeping with her research about teacher quality, during her tenure as dean, Leslie served as co-primary investigator for the Ready to Teach Program—a $2.1 million innovative teacher preparation program funded by the U.S. Department of Education and lauded as a national model by the U.S. Secretary of Education. Leslie also managed an $11 million teacher pipeline initiative in seven southeastern states when she was a program officer at the Southern Education Foundation (SEF).

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Lynn M. Gangone

President and CEO, AACTE