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UA Little Rock receives $3.5 million for endowed directorship of education school


UA Little Rock receives $3.5 million for endowed directorship of education school

May 22, 2023 | 6:24 pm ET
By Antoinette Grajeda
UA Little Rock receives $3.5 million for endowed directorship of education school
Education majors Dally Thompson, left, Hudson Trusty, and Lakendra Fisher attend classes at UA Little Rock. (Photo courtesy of Benjamin Krain/ UA Little Rock).

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock has received a $3.5 million grant from the Windgate Foundation to endow the directorship of its School of Education. 

The university will launch a national search in late summer or early fall “with an eye toward a leader who is collaborative, innovative, inclusive, and dynamic with experience in teacher preparation programs, including with accreditation, assessment, curriculum, partnerships, fundraising, and student success,” according to a university spokeswoman.

The anticipated start date for the inaugural Windgate Director of the School of Education is July 1, 2024. Kent Layton is the school’s interim director.

The director will play a direct role in ensuring that graduates are “day-one ready teacher candidates,” according to a press release. Primary goals include strengthening partnerships with K-12 schools and state school districts, increasing enrollment, supporting curricular innovation and meaningful assessment, raising awareness of the program, and raising funds to support teacher preparation efforts. 

“We are incredibly grateful to the Windgate Foundation for their generous support of this effort,” Chancellor Christina Drale said. “High quality teacher education has never been more important. This funding will help us sustain strong leadership for the program and will make possible further investment in innovative teacher preparation at UA Little Rock.”

Since 2021, UA Little Rock has received more than $550,000 from Forward Arkansas to develop an innovative model focused on reimaging teacher education. Forward Arkansas is a nonprofit organization established in 2015 by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and Walton Family Foundation to improve outcomes for all students, according to the group’s website.

“Our faculty have worked incredibly hard to develop an innovative approach to how we approach teacher education and preparation,” said Sarah Beth Estes, dean of the UA Little Rock College of Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences, and Education. “The new Windgate Director of the School of Education will play a critical role in expanding that work so that by the time our students graduate they will be fully prepared for a rewarding career that will help build positive learning environments for K-12 students throughout Arkansas schools.”