ImpactWinter 2015

Lilly Endowment pledges $14.48 million toward Woodrow Wilson fellowships

Woodrow_Lilly_Presser-10An innovative new MBA degree for school leaders, developed at UIndy as a national pilot program, will expand and spread to two more Hoosier universities, thanks to a $14.5-million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.

Officials from the endowment and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation gathered on campus in September to announce the expansion of the MBA Fellowship in Education Leadership program, which launched this summer with its first cohort of 15 educators from throughout Indiana. UIndy, already an ongoing partner in the Woodrow Wilson Foundation’s Indiana Teaching Fellowship program, was one of just two institutions nationwide selected in 2013 to develop the education MBA fellowship.

Faculty from UIndy’s School of Business and School of Education collaborated among themselves and with local schools in designing a curriculum that prepares education leaders to drive innovation, expand their use of analytics and evidence-based practices, raise student performance to international standards, and improve the quality of school systems and teaching over time. The resulting MBA program includes courses in data analysis, entrepreneurship, change leadership, communications and marketing, finance, law, human resources, and economic development.

The intensive 13-month program blends that education-based business curriculum with clinical experience in schools, corporations, and non-profits, as well as involvement with innovative schools abroad. The overall goal is to cultivate new principals and superintendents who are prepared to meet today’s challenges.

Education professionals are nominated for the fellowship by their school districts or charter school leaders, which enables schools and districts to cultivate new leaders from within their ranks. The fellows are able to apply their new knowledge immediately to the real issues they face at work. Each fellow receives a $50,000 stipend, which covers full tuition, technology, some living expenses, and a fully paid international travel experience. In exchange, each agrees to serve in a leadership role in his or her school or district for at least three years, with foundation-supported mentoring.

Speaking at the September announcement was Avon Community School Corporation Superintendent Margaret Hoernemann, who nominated an instructional coach from her district to be one of the program’s first fellows. Hoernemann noted that the development of the program has been “a true collaboration.”

“This wasn’t a case of higher education swooping down and telling educators how to really do it right, nor was it a situation where foundations were saying, ‘Do it the business way, and then you’ll get it right on education,’” she said. “We’re already seeing the influence in our school system. . . . I don’t think I’m overstating the case to say that this program will change the world and have a profound and lasting impact on education.”

Above: Joining UIndy President Robert Manuel for the announcement were (from left) Arthur Levine, Woodrow Wilson foundation president; N. Clay Robbins, Lilly Endowment president/CEO; and Margaret Hoernemann, Avon schools superintendent.

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