Professor Morgaen L. Donaldson selected as next Philip E. Austin Endowed Chair

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Morgaen L. Donaldson, a professor in the University of Connecticut Neag School of Education, has been selected as the next Philip E. Austin Endowed Chair, according to an article in UConn Today.

The position of Philip E. Austin Endowed Chair is awarded for a term of three years to a professor from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences or the Neag School of Education, according to the UConn Provost’s website.

According to the website, it was created when UConn President Philip E. Austin retired in 2007 to show appreciation for his work growing and developing UConn. It is given to a professor who similarly advances and promotes policy-related research. 

An eligible professor should have “a distinguished record in both policy-relevant research (for example in social, education, health, housing, environmental, criminal justice or other salient policy areas) and public engagement (work that is highly visible and relevant to both scholarly and lay audiences),” according to the Provost’s website.

Donaldson is the Neag School’s Associate Dean for Research; director of the Center for Education Policy Analysis, Research, and Evaluation; and coordinator of the Ed.D. Program in addition to being a professor, according to her profile on the Neag School website.  (https://education.uconn.edu/person/morgaen-donaldson/)

According to the profile, Donaldson worked as a teacher in urban and semi-urban high schools before becoming a professor and focuses her research on education leadership, teacher quality, educational policy, educational reform and evaluation. 

Donaldson sees her selection as highlighting all of the research done at the Neag School.

“It is a great honor to be the first Austin Chair from the Neag School, but I am by no means the only prominent education policy scholar from our school. I work with outstanding researchers at Neag who study a range of important policy issues, from access to K-12 schools and higher education, to school choice, to school turnaround,” she said.  

According to the Provost’s website, the Austin Chair’s endowment provides about $60,000 each year to support the selected professor’s research. Part of the funding is intended to be used to make the research more accessible to the general public. 

According to Jason G. Irizarry, dean of the Neag School of Education, current challenges in education make more research necessary. 

“Dr. Donaldson’s selection as the next Austin Endowed Chair comes at a time when the field of education is faced with a myriad of challenges, and quality research and policy analysis are needed to help inform pathways forward for schools in our state and across the nation,” he said. 

According to Donaldson, addressing the effects of school closures due to COVID-19 is one current challenge that education research is helping to solve. 

“Research on education is critically important, especially in the current context. COVID-19 disrupted schooling for millions of young people. Research is playing a central role in describing and documenting how these disruptions affected the learning and development of youth,” she said. 

Irizarry believes that the selection of Donaldson as the new Austin Chair will give her a new way to continue to advance education research. 

“Morgaen’s work has, and with this new platform will, continue to inform some of the most important policy and practice debates facing our field today,” Irizarry said. 

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