UM Offers Hybrid Doctorate in K-12 Leadership

Doctoral program designed for working principals, district administrators

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UM School of Education launches a Doctor of Education degree in K-12 leadership in a hybrid format, combining online coursework and traditional seminars.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi is accepting applications for a new doctoral program specially designed for senior-level K-12 administrators.

In August, the UM School of Education launches a Doctor of Education degree in K-12 leadership in a hybrid format, combining online coursework and traditional seminars on weekends to support the needs of working principals, superintendents and district-level administrators.

“You can think of the hybrid Ed.D. as a terminal degree with a built-in consulting group,” said Doug Davis, associate professor of educational leadership and director of the program. “Each cohort member will have different goals for his or her own school or district. Participants will have access to not only our faculty but other experienced leaders in the cohort who will help each other achieve their goals.”

The Ed.D. requires six semesters of part-time study over three years and all graduates will complete a “Dissertation in Practice,” which will allow doctoral students to align research with the institutional goals of their home school and/or district.

The coursework comprises 57 graduate hours including research methods, program evaluation, organizational leadership, finance, law and more.

“The Ed.D. is an exciting opportunity for education leaders,” said David Rock, dean of the School of Education. “We know that positive change doesn’t happen without quality leadership in schools. The School of Education is dedicated to providing better doctoral programs for these individuals. “

For admission into the program, applicants must hold an advanced degree in educational leadership with a graduate GPA of at least 3.5. Applicants must also possess a competitive score on the Graduate Record Exam, a school administrator’s license and full-time employment in an education leadership position at the school or district level.

Multiple financial aid options are available, including the use of bank hours awarded to schools from UM. Depending on the needs of the program’s first cohort, weekend seminars may be offered at different locations throughout the state.

The new program is the result of an ongoing collaboration with the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate, or CPED, a consortium of more than 80 institutions undertaking an examination of professional doctorates in education.

“CPED is allowing colleges and universities to work together to advance doctoral education designed to affect practice,” said Amy Wells Dolan, associate dean of education, who has worked with CPED as a UM representative since 2011. “Many doctoral students seek out terminal degrees for the purpose of professional practice. This allows us to be more responsive to those students’ objectives.”

The Ed.D. differs from the existing Doctor of Philosophy degree in K-12 leadership, which is designed for full-time study and allows doctoral students to focus more on individual research interests.

For more information about the Ed.D. in K-12 Leadership, visit

‘Pig and Small’ Wins CELI Read Aloud Book Award

UM literacy center honors South African author for tale of unlikely friends

CELI literacy specialist Olivia Morgan reads Pig and Small to children at Willie Price Lab School at UM.

CELI literacy specialist Olivia Morgan reads ‘Pig and Small’ to children at Willie Price Lab School at UM.

OXFORD, Miss. – A children’s tale about an unlikely friendship between a pig and an insect unfolds in the pages of “Pig and Small,” winner of the 2015 Read Aloud Book Award, presented by the University of Mississippi’s Center for Excellence in Literacy Instruction.

South African author and illustrator Alex Latimer created “Pig and Small” in 2013 and the book was released in the U.S. in 2014 by Peachtree Publishers. A committee of UM graduate students, north Mississippi teachers and CELI faculty and staff selected Latimer’s book for the award in May. The book will feature the CELI Read Aloud Seal on its cover.

“Each year we look to honor a book that, when read aloud, provides a positive and enjoyable learning experience for students,” said CELI literacy specialist Angie Caldwell, a member of the committee. “CELI’s Read Aloud seal marks a book that is funny and engaging, while also providing students with important lessons that they can carry with them for years to come.”

Established in 2007, CELI is part of the UM School of Education and provides professional development, research and service to reading teachers throughout Mississippi. The institute has awarded the Read Aloud Book Award since 2010 with financial support from the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation in Jackson. The goal of the award is to promote reading aloud to young children to cultivate a love of reading and a deep appreciation of storytelling.

A children's tale about an unlikely friendship by South African author and illustrator Alex Latimer.

A children’s tale about an unlikely friendship by South African author and illustrator Alex Latimer.

“This was a great book to teach diversity,” said Kim Homan, a committee member and teacher who shared the book with 22 of her first-graders at Pontotoc Elementary School. “We don’t have to be the same to get along and be friends. The students were quick to pick up on this theme.”

In the text, main characters Pig and Bug constantly run into the same dilemma: they can never quite figure out how to play together. With Pig being too large and Bug being too small, the pair cannot ride a tandem bike or play catch. However, by the tale’s end they do find several activities to enjoy together.

“This has been a favorite in our classroom,” said committee member Sarah Siebert, a preschool teacher at Willie Price Lab School. “We’ve even had parents asking for the title.”

Thirty-four books from seven publishers were submitted for the 2015 award. Latimer’s book received the highest praise from teachers and more than 200 children in north Mississippi. All Read Aloud submission books were later donated to teachers in critical-needs schools throughout north Mississippi.

UM Principal Corps Admits Seventh Cohort

Elite K-12 leadership program expands placements to eastern Mississippi

OXFORD, Miss. – Eleven outstanding educators from school districts across the state make up the seventh cohort of the Principal Corps, the University of Mississippi’s elite program for K-12 leadership.

The seventh cohort of the Principal Corps (Left to Right): Melanie Wells, Leslie Mikell, Brantley Pierce, Tristal Watson, Brock Ratcliff, Brad Blake, Emma Cornwall, Kristy Dunning and Stephanie Crowell. Stephanie Crowell and Alyson Saucier not pictured. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

The seventh cohort of the Principal Corps (Left to Right): Melanie Wells, Leslie Mikell, Brantley Pierce, Tristal Watson, Brock Ratcliff, Brad Blake, Emma Cornwall, Kristy Dunning and Liz Towle. Stephanie Crowell and Alyson Saucier not pictured. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

The group includes Brad Blake of the Vicksburg-Warren School District, Emma Cornwall of the Columbus School District, Stephanie Crowell of the Quitman County School District, Kristy Dunning of the DeSoto County School District, Leslie Mikell of the Lauderdale County School District, Brantley Pierce of Perry County Schools, Brock Ratcliff of Harrison County Schools, Alyson Saucier of Harrison County Schools, Elizabeth Towle of Marshall County Schools, Tristal Watson of Hattiesburg Public Schools and Melanie Wells of Rankin County Schools. Each recruit was nominated for admission into the Principal Corps by his or her district superintendent.

With participants hailing from Columbus and Meridian, the seventh class marks a new presence in east Mississippi for the program. Established in 2009, the 13-month program awards graduates with a master’s or specialist degree in educational leadership from the UM School of Education and has a near-perfect success rate in landing its graduates jobs as educational leaders.

“This program will be a challenging experience that prepares you to serve as a transformational leader,” said Tom Burnham, interim director of the Principal Corps and two-time state superintendent of education. “Each of you will learn to make difficult decisions and the skills and processes needed to serve as an instructional leader focused on moving a school toward higher levels of success, even when it’s challenging.”

One of the most valuable K-12 leadership scholarships in the nation, the program includes full tuition, books and fees, as well as housing and living expenses while completing coursework at Ole Miss The Principal Corps also provides funding to maintain recruits’ salary during the program.

“Our goal is have every Principal Corps graduate in a leadership role in a Mississippi school,” said David Rock, UM education dean. “We know the impact that building level leaders have on student achievement. We need great principals to lead positive change in each school in our state.”

The program focuses on combining theory with experience-based learning. During full-time internships, recruits work closely with mentor administrators, often serving as acting assistant principals. They graduate with a year of full-time experience and often receive job offers from internship sites.

“The most attractive aspect for me was that you come out of the program with a year of full-time experience,” said Leslie Mikell, a recruit from Northeast Lauderdale Elementary in Meridian. “I feel so privileged to be part of such a competitive and prestigious program.”

All Principal Corps graduates make a five-year commitment to stay in Mississippi after graduation and receive a $10,000 bonus upon signing a contract as a principal or assistant principal and beginning work. With 66 graduates, the ranks of Principal Corps alumni could grow to 77 next year.

“For me, this is a chance to seek opportunities and enhance my discipline,” said Brantley Pierce, a recruit from Perry Central High School in New Augusta. “So far, it’s been inspiring to surround myself with people who have the same career goals and are invested in improving education in Mississippi.”

During June, recruits will complete coursework at the Oxford campus before reporting to their first internship site in the fall and a second site in the spring. Each principal-in-training also attends classes at Ole Miss one weekend a month throughout the year.

Originally funded with $2 million in startup money from the Jim and Donna Barksdale Foundation in 2009, the program received additional funding in October 2012, when the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation awarded Principal Corps $1.5 million in new funding to expand placements across the state.

UM Launches Wellness and Physical Activity Credential for Teachers

Mississippi Department of Education to offer new endorsement based on Ole Miss curriculum

Wellness and Physical Activity Endorsement

Wellness and Physical Activity Endorsement

OXFORD, Miss. – The Mississippi Department of Education has launched a new license endorsement in wellness and physical activity for K-6 teachers based on a specialized program designed by education faculty at the University of Mississippi.

This fall, the UM School of Education will begin offering a 12-hour curriculum in wellness and physical activity for elementary education majors who seek to understand the correlations between cognition, physical activity and overall wellness. All students who complete these courses will qualify for the new credential as part of their teaching licenses.

“Our goal is for our students to teach in a way that benefits the whole child,” said Alicia Stapp, assistant professor of wellness and physical activity and coordinator of the program. “Integrating wellness and physical activity into academics benefits all forms of intelligence including academic, physical and social.”

Stapp, a veteran of public schools in central Florida, joined UM to design the new program in 2014 after the School of Education obtained $1.2 million in private funding from the Bower Foundation in Ridgeland to create the wellness program in 2013.

The new endorsement is no typical PE program. In fact, the physical aspect of this methodology is only a small piece of the puzzle. The Ole Miss program focuses on what happens in the minds and bodies of children who are active in a well-designed academic environment.

In essence, the goal is to prepare teachers to jumpstart children’s brains to optimize their capacity to learn and generate positive health outcomes. Wellness education graduates will create and implement lesson plans that integrate music and movement while also focusing on academics.

UM’s coursework utilizes extensive research that shows a direct link between health, physical activity, academic achievement and student behavior. Other research also suggests that incorporating physical activity in a classroom for just 20 to 30 minutes a day could help prevent troublesome conditions such as obesity or Type 2 Diabetes.

With more than 400 students, elementary education is the largest professional major at Ole Miss and graduates should start to emerge with this training within a year.

“The strength of the wellness and physical activity endorsement is that it provides pre-service teachers with the knowledge and skills needed to integrate movement and wellness into the existing curriculum,” said Susan McClelland, chair of the Department of Teacher Education. “This integrated approach can transform a classroom and greatly enhance student involvement in the learning experience and thus, impact student achievement.”

The university’s eventual goal is to place small cohorts of wellness education graduates in individual schools to help shift school cultures in a positive direction.

For more information about UM’s endorsement program in wellness and physical activity visit

UM Inducts Three into School of Education Hall of Fame

Kuykendall, Reynolds and Smith honored for leadership, service in public education

UM education dean David Rock, Jerome Smith, Judith Reynolds and Milton Kuykendall at the Inn at Ole Miss following the School of Education Hall of Fame induction.

UM education Dean David Rock, Jerome Smith, Judith Reynolds and Milton Kuykendall at the Inn at Ole Miss following the School of Education Hall of Fame induction.

OXFORD, Miss. – Three University of Mississippi alumni were admitted into the inaugural class of the UM School of Education’s Hall of Fame.

The inductees were Milton Kuykendall, superintendent of the Desoto County School District; Judith Reynolds, a 45-year educator from Clinton; and Jerome Smith, a retired Jackson-area education leader and former education adviser to Gov. Kirk Fordice. The inductees were honored Friday (May 8) at the School of Education Awards Day Banquet.

“We are proud to honor the dedication and accomplishments of these outstanding alumni,” said David Rock, dean of the School of Education. “Milton Kuykendall, Judith Reynolds and Jerome Smith have made a positive impact on not only their profession but thousands of students and community members in Mississippi.”

The inductees were selected for the honor by the UM Education Alumni Advisory Board after being nominated by their peers in January.

Kuykendall, who holds a master’s degree from UM, has served as superintendent in Desoto County for the past 12 years and previously served as principal of Horn Lake High School for 18 years. During his 45-year career, he has been honored as the state’s top administrator, principal and superintendent by multiple professional originations and was once featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated with his twin brother, Malcom, when the Kuykendall brothers became the nation’s first siblings to simultaneously lead their respective basketball teams to state championships. He plans to retire in December.

“My education at Ole Miss equipped me with knowledge but more importantly, it prepared me to go on the job and apply it,” Kuykendall said. “I’m grateful for all of the opportunities I’ve had in my career, and this wonderful university has offered me so much over the years.”

Reynolds, who received her bachelor’s degree in education from UM in 1968, was a classroom teacher and spent much of her career at Clinton High School, where her teaching accolades included being selected as the school’s Star Teacher nine times, being named Mississippi Star Teacher in 1988, and serving as the chairperson of her school’s departments of English and Foreign Languages. Reynolds has been a National Board Certified Teacher since 1999 and is a member of the Mississippi Hall of Master Teachers at Mississippi University for Women.

“This is an overwhelming honor,” Reynolds said. “There is no career more rewarding than teaching, if you love it. I have spent my entire career working with students and I wouldn’t change a single thing.”

Smith, who earned a bachelor’s degree in 1948 and a master’s in in 1952 from UM, spent more than 52 years in Mississippi dedicated to service and leadership in public education. A World War II veteran, he served in the U.S. Army Air Corps, then attended UM on the G.I. Bill and later went on to be a teacher and football coach at public schools in Louisville. He later served as a counselor and principal at multiple schools including Callaway High School, which became the first integrated public school in the state in 1966 under Smith’s leadership.

His other accomplishments in public education include serving as executive director of Mississippi Professional Educators, where he helped lawmakers appropriate funding for the State Health Plan, which gave health insurance to Mississippi teachers, and helping Gov. Fordice encourage the Mississippi Legislature to provide a $6,000-a-year pay increase for national board certified teachers.

“I’ve enjoyed my profession and I’ve enjoyed my life and I am very proud that I came to Ole Miss,” Smith said. “I would tell any student of education today to attend this university. It has a strong program and it will prepare you to succeed.”

Sweeney Named Mississippi Teacher Corps Director

UM alumnus rejoins program as new leader after serving as secondary school teacher, administrator

Joseph Sweeney

Joseph Sweeney

OXFORD, Miss. – Mississippi Teacher Corps veteran Joseph Sweeney has joined the University of Mississippi School of Education faculty as director of the highly selective teacher preparation program.

Sweeney, who took the helm of the Teacher Corps on March 16, is in the midst of preparing for the program’s 26th cohort of new recruits who will undergo hands-on teacher training during the program’s summer training school in Holly Springs in June and July.

“The Teacher Corps is a great program with great people,” said Sweeney, who also serves as an instructor in the Department of Teacher Education. “It’s almost surreal to be back here, but I feel very confident we will continue to offer a valuable service to the state of Mississippi. I feel like I’m home and this is my dream job.”

Established in 1989, the Teacher Corps, which receives its primary funding from the Mississippi Legislature, is an alternate route program that prepares college graduates to teach and succeed in secondary, critical-needs schools in the state. The program provides job placement with full benefits and salary upon finishing its summer training school.

Each year, the summer school calls upon Teacher Corps alumni and UM education faculty to expose the new cohort to skills and tactics they will need as teachers in the state’s most challenging middle and high school classrooms.

“Joe Sweeney was a rising star during his time in the program,” said Mississippi Teacher Corps co-founder Andy Mullins. “He was successful as a teacher and as a graduate student and showed skill and leadership abilities from the very beginning. When the opening occurred, we immediately thought that Joe would be an excellent choice.”

The Teacher Corps, which can accept up to 35 new recruits a year, requires teachers to complete graduate coursework at UM to earn a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction over two years. Graduates also qualify to apply for an advanced teaching license from the Mississippi Department of Education. More than 600 teachers have come through the program.

Sweeney, a native of Traverse City, Michigan, joined the Teacher Corps in 2004 and served as an English teacher at East Side High School in Cleveland. He later served as the principal for the Teacher Corps’ summer school for three years and was an adjunct faculty member in the UM School of Education, continuing his connection to the program.

Before joining UM, Sweeney was an instructional designer and faculty development coordinator at Baptist College of Health Sciences in Memphis, Tennessee, where he worked with faculty members in health care professions to develop and/or redesign curricula to utilize online, face-to-face and hybrid models. Sweeney has also held teaching positions at H.W. Byers Attendance Center in Mt. Pleasant, Byhalia High School in Byhalia and WinBe English School in Mie, Japan.

This spring, Sweeney expects to complete a doctorate in instructional design and technology from the University of Memphis. He also holds a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from UM and a bachelor’s degree in English education from Michigan State University.

“We will continue to build on the great foundation that Dr. Mullins and others have built over 26 years,” Sweeney said. “We will continue to recruit good people, support them in the classroom and solidify the Mississippi Teacher Corps’ long-term and positive role in this state.”

Teaching Program Fellows Study Education Policy in Nation’s Capital

Spring break trip offers policy perspective for education students

METP fellows in from the of the U.S. Department of Education. The group includes (left to right): Brenna Ferrell of Ocean Springs, Lydia Hall of Madison, Emily Reynolds of Brandon, Kaye Whitfield of Birmingham, Ala, Katianne Middleton of Selma, Ala., James Wheeler of St. Johns, Fla., Abigail Sudduth of Flowood,Shelby Knighten of Gauthier, Ben Logan of Sherman, Kaypounyers Maye of Gulfport, Rachel Parbs of Southaven,, Anna Claire Kelley of Madison,Bella Hutson of Liberty, Jenna Smiley of Meridian and Abigail Null of Corinth.

METP fellows gather in front of the of the U.S. Department of Education. The group includes (left to right): Brenna Ferrell of Ocean Springs, Lydia Hall of Madison, Emily Reynolds of Brandon, Kaye Whitfield of Birmingham, Alabama, Katianne Middleton of Selma, Alabama, James Wheeler of St. Johns, Florida, Abigail Sudduth of Flowood, Shelby Knighten of Gauthier, Ben Logan of Sherman, Kaypounyers Maye of Gulfport, Rachel Parbs of Southaven, Anna Claire Kelley of Madison,Bella Hutson of Liberty, Jenna Smiley of Meridian and Abigail Null of Corinth.

OXFORD, Miss. – Fifteen University of Mississippi sophomores from the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program spent spring break in Washington, D.C., getting a close-up view of how education policy is crafted and administered at the national level.

Throughout the 2014-15 academic year, the cohort has studied education policy issues on a variety of levels as part of specialized seminars designed for METP participants, or fellows.

“This year, our goal is to help fellows understand how policy decisions at the national and state level directly impact schools,” said Ryan Niemeyer, the program’s director. “We’re training students to be exceptional educators. This means equipping them with content knowledge and a pedagogical understanding of teaching. But it also means producing educators who recognize how governing bodies operate and how they can have a voice in policy discussions.”

Established in 2012 with nearly $13 million from the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation in Jackson, METP is one of the nation’s most valuable teacher education scholarships, designed to attract the best and brightest into the field. The program, which has a partner chapter at Mississippi State, includes four years of tuition, room and board, books, study abroad professional development and more.

METP fellows (left to right) Rachel Parbs of Southaven, Bella Hutson of Liberty, Jenna Smiley of Meridian and Shelby Knighten of Gauthier stand in front of the Washington Monument in the District of Columbia.

METP fellows (left to right) Rachel Parbs of Southaven, Bella Hutson of Liberty, Jenna Smiley of Meridian and Shelby Knighten of Gauthier visit the National Mall.

During the trip, fellows toured the U.S. Capitol and met U.S. Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker. The group also visited the U.S. Department of Education, where they met with Melody Musgrove, a Mississippi native who directs the department’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

On the first night, the group spent an evening discussing state and national education policy with Melody and her husband, former Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, at their home in the district.

“I thoroughly enjoyed our evening with the Musgroves,” said METP fellow Ben Logan, a Sherman native who is majoring in both mathematics education and public policy leadership. “We gained an interesting perspective when we able to sit and discuss education policy with Gov. and Dr. Musgrove.”

Throughout the group’s stay, they also visited Arlington National Cemetery, Chinatown, Ford’s Theatre, the Library of Congress, the National Mall, multiple Smithsonian exhibits and more.

“We’ve jumped feet-first into education policy issues this year,” said fellow Rachel Parbs, a Southaven native majoring in English education. “So far, this program is going above and beyond my expectations. Our cohort is bonding and we’re getting to travel. I’m really looking forward to what’s next.”

To date, the UM chapter of METP has recruited 32 students from nine states with an average ACT score of 29.1. Each graduate makes a five-year commitment to teach in a Mississippi public school after graduation. Next year, METP plans to take a group abroad to study education issues from an international perspective when the fellows visit multiple countries within the United Kingdom.

“It was so encouraging to meet people who care about education issues and have ideas for the future,” said fellow Brenna Ferrell, an English education major from Ocean Springs. “Each experience we’ve had in the program has made me more excited to enter the classroom and make a difference.”

UM is interviewing applicants for METP’s third cohort, which will enroll this fall.

UM Literacy Center Takes Lead Role in Jumpstart Program

Educators look to expand pre-K reading program in Mississippi

Photo by UM photographer Nathan Latil.

Photo by UM photographer Nathan Latil.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Center for Excellence in Literacy Instruction has taken over as the lead unit for the university’s ongoing partnership with Jumpstart, a national organization that helps children prepare for kindergarten by developing language and reading skills.

Jumpstart, which places college students in pre-K classrooms to work with children on basic skills, is in its third year at UM. It previously was administered through the College of Liberal Arts with training support from CELI staff. UM is the only Jumpstart partner in Mississippi, but CELI director Angela Rutherford hopes to identify new collaborators across the state.

“We hope to grow the positive impact we’re making on the lives of children,” Rutherford said. “We know from research that the more words children can hear, speak and understand, the more they can improve their language and literacy skills. Jumpstart allows children to be actively engaged in language experiences with adults in a pre-K setting, which is essential in closing the knowledge gaps that exist in Mississippi.”

A 2014 assessment by the Mississippi Department of Education found that more than 65 percent of Mississippi children do not possess the reading skills needed for entering kindergarten. Literacy research suggests that children who enter kindergarten with quality pre-K instruction are much more likely to be proficient readers by third grade.

“Because our volunteers go in as a team at consistent times, they are able to lower the adult-to-student ratio to about 3-to-1,” said CELI literacy specialist Olivia Pasterchick, who oversees volunteers and provides training. “That’s huge, considering it’s often about 17-to-1.”

With 21 volunteers, the UM Jumpstart program has nearly doubled in size in three years and has directly affected more than 130 Mississippi children enrolled in pre-K programs in Oxford and Okolona.

“I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, but Jumpstart helped me realize that I want to specialize in early childhood,” said Sarah Howell, a first-year master’s student in elementary education who has volunteered at ABC Learning Center in Oxford and at Okolona Elementary School. “It’s a lot of work but it’s also very rewarding. The lessons are very strategic and you learn how children develop vocabulary and comprehension.”

Each Jumpstart volunteer makes an overall commitment of more than 300 hours in an academic year, which includes training, lesson preparation beforehand and professional evaluation after.

“The job requires dedication but it doesn’t feel like work once you begin developing relationships with the kids,” said Benjamin Parkman, a senior biology major from Jackson who has worked at ABC and Mary Cathey Headstart Center in Oxford. “One of my greatest aspirations in life is to be a good parent one day, and Jumpstart has given me the opportunity to build the foundation for that.”

As part of Jumpstart training, volunteers complete 40 hours of preparation before entering the classroom, including early learning knowledge assessments. UM volunteers saw nearly a 10-point jump on this assessment in 2014, Pasterchick said.

“This opportunity has a huge effect on not only the children but on the volunteers, even the ones who aren’t education majors,” Pasterchick said. “We have business and biology majors who come through this and become advocates for early childhood education because they’ve seen it work. Because of this experience, they will be better future parents and neighbors and citizens.”

Billy Crews Hired as Education Development Officer

Former Daily Journal executive joins UM in fundraising role

Billy Crews education development officer ole miss university of mississippi daily journal school of education um foundation tfa oxford

Former newspaper executive and public education proponent Billy Crews joins the UM School of Education as its new development officer.

OXFORD, Miss. – Longtime newspaper executive and public education proponent Billy Crews has joined the University of Mississippi as the new development officer for its School of Education.

Crews’ position is a new one, in which he will head fundraising efforts from within the school in collaboration with the UM Foundation.

“I believe the School of Education is one of the most important units at the university in terms of potential impact on our state,” said Crews, an Oxford native. “After 35 years in business, I am committed to a new career focused on supporting public education in Mississippi.”

Crews joins the university after more than two years working for Teach for America’s Mississippi region, where he served as vice president for strategic partnerships. Before TFA, he led the Tupelo-based media company Journal Inc., which owns the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, serving as chairman and chief executive before retiring in 2010. Crews also previously served as chief operations officer and as a member of the board of trustees for the Tupelo Public School District.

“Billy Crews is an asset to the University of Mississippi because of his experience and his genuine passion for education,” said David Rock, UM education dean. “We are very fortunate to have his experience and expertise as we advance our mission to support and improve education in Mississippi and beyond.”

Crews’ experience in support of public education dates to the late 1970s when, while working as a community service representative for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, he helped establish the Mississippi Reading Improvement Program, an endeavor that placed assistant teachers in K-2 public classrooms throughout the state. More recently in 2010, he helped lead a citizen initiative to raise $100,000 to fund pre-K classrooms in Tupelo public schools. Crews also helped establish Mississippi’s first multicorporation pre-K learning center for employees of five Tupelo-based organizations.

A UM alumnus, Crews received a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1978 and was the Associated Student Body president and a Rhodes Scholar finalist. The son of former UM English professor John Crews, he spent much of his childhood on the Ole Miss campus.

“In a sense, I’ve come full circle from growing up on this campus, graduating college here and now returning for a new career,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with Dean Rock and the School of Education’s faculty and staff to enhance the university’s commitment to excellence in education.”

UM Launches Professional Doctorates in Math, Higher Education

Three-year doctoral program designed for working teachers, administrators

Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate

Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi now offers professional doctorates in the fields of mathematics instruction and higher education.

The UM School of Education‘s new Doctor of Education program is designed for secondary mathematics teachers or college administrators who already hold a master’s degree and wish to pursue doctoral studies with an emphasis on professional practice.

The Ed.D. is designed to be completed part-time over three years and both emphases require at least 48 hours of post-master’s credit, including a “Dissertation in Practice,” which will be a major research project focused on solving real-world problems in Mississippi education.

The new program is the result of an ongoing collaboration with the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate, or CPED, a consortium of more than 80 institutions undertaking an examination of professional doctorates in education.

“CPED is a knowledge forum where institutions work together to improve doctoral education that affects practice,” said Amy Wells Dolan, associate dean of the education school, who has worked with CPED as a UM representative since 2011. “Our institution has long attracted students who seek doctoral study for the purpose of professional practice. Establishing an Ed.D. program with CPED principles makes us more responsive to those students’ needs and goals.”

While the Ed.D. program’s initial focus is mathematics education and higher education, it could soon expand to other fields such as English education or educational leadership. Both emphases will share a joint core of educational research courses that are completed alongside other graduate seminars in either mathematics education or higher education.

The fundamental difference between the new Ed.D. and UM’s existing Ph.D. programs in these fields is that the Ed.D. is designed to help teachers and administrators advance existing careers, whereas the Ph.D. is intended to prepare graduate students for new careers in collegiate teaching and research.

“We believe the Ed.D. will better serve doctoral students in higher education who are currently administrators and see themselves advancing on this path,” said John Holleman, coordinator of higher education. “The professional doctorate utilizes a consultancy model allowing students to develop research and assessment skills and then directly apply them to an ongoing, real world environment.”

The program is also designed to make doctoral study more accessible to teachers and administrators across Mississippi. One plan in the works could include cohort sites for both emphases at the Oxford  campus and at the Medical Center in Jackson, as well as other areas where a demand can be identified.

“We are looking to provide maximum opportunities for mathematics educators who want to stay classroom-based in their careers,” said Allan Bellman, associate professor of mathematics education. “This program will allow teachers to identify something that they want to improve, design a solution and apply it. The research will have a direct impact on their practice and even practice across their whole district.”

The application deadline for the first cohort of both Ed.D. tracks is April 1. For more information about curriculum and admissions, visit