Neag School announced to participate in a $47 million initiative

The Gentry building serves as the home of the Neag School of Education. UConn has been chosen to lead a $47 million initiative to improve university principal preparation programs. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut has been chosen to lead a multi-million dollar initiative for the development of principal preparation programs within the state, according to a press release from the Wallace Foundation.

The University Preparation Program Initiative comes from the Wallace Foundation, which also focuses on serving disadvantaged children and families.

The Neag School’s Administrator Preparation Program, or UCAPP, was one of seven university-based principal programs across the nation chosen by the Wallace Foundation to participate in a $47 million national initiative to improve university principal preparation programs both within universities and statewide.

“(The Wallace Foundation) repeated at least three times during the [initial] session that their mission is to level the playing field for children and families of disadvantaged backgrounds,” said Dr. Richard Gonzales, Director of the Educational Leadership Preparation Programs and associate professor for the Neag School of Education. “So they made very clear that they would take that into consideration for which programs they would accept.”

The multi-million dollar initiative was launched in response to a study conducted by the Wallace Foundation earlier this year on principals’ and superintendents’ perception of university-based principal preparation programs.

About 80 percent of district superintendents were dissatisfied with the quality of principal preparation programs. But many universities, such as UConn, believe their programs have room for improvement, according to the study.

“We were on the verge of growing, and we did. Our work drew attention from programs focused on principal preparation programs, like the Wallace Foundation,” Gonzales said.

“UCAPP was (based on) a report written by an institute in Stamford back in 2006 for implementing high quality and innovative practices, So frankly we see this as continuing the tradition…to better prepare the future leaders of our state.”

UConn will work with Hartford, Meriden and New Haven Public Schools during the four-year initiative, with whom they have established partnerships. UConn will also partner with the Connecticut Department of Education, University of Illinois at Chicago and the NYC Leadership Academy.

The Wallace Foundation will provide over $1.25 million for the first year, which will be allocated among the school districts, the state and UConn. 86 percent of the money will be allocated solely for the goals of the grant, Gonzales said.

Each school district will receive about $466,667 each. Together, the foundation plans to pool money to hire a consulting firm which will work on creating a leader tracking system database. The database will keep track of the training, education, and mentorship of all superintendents in order for districts to learn what factors are important to the professional development of a superintendent, Gonzales said.

The state will receive $150,000 for facilitating conversation and training for the principal preparation programs across the state. UConn will devote between $350,000 and $400,000 to hiring a coordinator for the project, Gonzales said.

Luckily, UConn won’t have to focus on all the issues brought up by superintendents in the Wallace Foundation report.

For example, one of the biggest agreed upon points among superintendents in the study was the need for clinical, or field experience in principal training programs. Gonzales said that wasn’t an issue for UConn.

“One of the things we did that made us innovate all the way back in 2006 was that we would have supervised that’s not really a problem for us in CT,” Gonzales said.

Dario Cabrera is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at