EALR hosts visiting scholars from Turkey, China

The Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research has recently advanced WKU’s mission of being “an American university with international reach” by hosting visiting scholars from Turkey and China.

Nuray Kisa
Nuray Kisa

Nuray Kisa, a doctoral student in Educational Sciences from Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey, visited WKU from December 2015 until June 2016.  Nuray was a guest of EALR associate professor Dr. Gary Houchens.  With Dr. Houchens’ guidance, Nuray completed a draft of her doctoral dissertation, which focuses on the gap between theory and practice as perceived by principals, school administrators, and university professors in Turkey.  She presented the results of her research at a Brown Bag research luncheon in April.  Nuray will soon defend her dissertation and commence her own professorial duties at Hacettepe.


Huan Zhang
Huan Zhang

Huan Zhang, assistant lecturer in the Foreign Language Department in Anhui University of Science and Technology in Ma’anshan, China, arrived at WKU in March 2016 as a guest of EALR associate professor Dr. Jie Zhang.  Huan will remain until September 2016 advancing her research agenda on bilingualism, language teaching, and second language acquisition (an interest she shares with Dr. Jie Zhang).


EALR faculty, staff, and students have enjoyed the opportunity to engage in cross-cultural sharing with our guests and deepen our understanding of education issues from an international perspective.  We look forward to hosting more scholars in the future.

EALR professors Houchens and Zhang win Faculty Excellence Awards

WKU’s Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research was honored to have two professors earn Faculty Excellence Awards for the 2016 College of Education and Behavioral Sciences.

Drs. Houchens and Zhang with CEBS Dean Dr. Sam Evans
Drs. Houchens and Zhang with CEBS Dean Dr. Sam Evans

Dr. Gary Houchens won the CEBS award for Student Advising, while Dr. Jie Zhang earned the award for Research.  They were recognized with a university-wide reception and awards ceremony in April.

Each year students, faculty, and administrators nominate faculty members for awards in Teaching, Research, Student Advisement, and Public Service.  This year awards were also given for outstanding part-time faculty members.  A faculty committee reviews a portfolio of materials from nominees and each college selects an award winner for each category.  Drs. Houchens and Zhang will now be considered for the university-wide faculty awards, which will be announced at the faculty/staff Convocation in August.

Drs. Houchens and Zhang were also awarded tenure in 2016.  Both joined the faculty of WKU in 2010.  Dr. Houchens works primarily with students in the principal certification program while Dr. Zhang teaches research methods in the WKU Doctorate of Educational Leadership program where she also serves on numerous dissertation committees.

EALR concludes another successful year

EALR faculty prepare for 2016 Commencement
EALR faculty prepare for 2016 Commencement

As the 2015/16 academic comes to a close, the Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research celebrates a host of accomplishments.  Among the highlights of the past academic year were the following:

1.      Dr. Kristin Wilson was the FIRST EALR faculty member to be awarded a ZSEIFS “Year of South Africa” scholarship and spent almost three weeks in SA establishing a research network from mid-May through the first week of June.
2.      Dr. Tom Stewart joined the EALR faculty in August 2015
3.      Dr. Stacy Leggett accepted an appointment to EALR in August, with a January start date
4.      Dr. Janet Hurt accepted a visiting faculty position with EALR Fall 2015 and was the successful candidate through a national search with a Fall 2016 start date
5.      Dr. Jie Zhang achieved promotion to the rank of Associate Professor and was granted tenure, effective with the 2016/2017 academic year
6.      Dr. Jie Zhang received the CEBS Faculty Award for Excellence for Research 2016
7.      Dr. Gary Houchens was granted tenure, effective with the 2016/2017 academic year
8.      Dr. Gary Houchens received the CEBS Faculty Award for Excellence for Student Advising 2016
9.      Dr. Gary Houchens (PI) and Jie Zhang (Co-PI) were awarded an RCAP grant for research
10.   Dr. Jie Zhang was awarded a QTAG grant to continue her work from the Spencer Foundation
11.  Dr. Jim Berger received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the COABE conference Fall 2015
12.  Dr. Kristin Wilson was the recipient of a Fulbright Flex Scholarship for a three-year research project at the University of Limpopo in South Africa
13.  The EDAD program was one of 24 principal preparation programs of 700 nationally to be invited to submit a proposal for Wallace Grant Funding for the University Principal Preparation Initiative and was is a FINALIST for funding!
14.  Dr. Kimberlee Everson was awarded a ZSEIFS “Year of South Korea” scholarship and will travel to South Korea for almost three weeks from mid-May through the first week of June
16.  Dr.  Jie Zhang was elected to the Board of Directors for CREATE – The Consortium for Research in Educational Assessment and Teaching Effectiveness
17.  Dr. Margie DeSander was elected to the AERA Law and Education SIG Board of Directors as Secretary-Treasurer through Spring 2017.
We’ll be exploring each of these accomplishments in greater depth in follow up posts over the summer.  Congratulations to all EALR faculty for an outstanding year!

Doctoral students share research during brown bag lunch series

Doctoral student Trudy Crossbourne presents her research
Doctoral student Trudy Crossbourne presents her research

Students in WKU’s Doctor of Educational Leadership (EdD) program have been showcasing their research this semester, and in April visiting scholar Nuray Kisa, a doctoral student from Turkey, will present on the results of her dissertation study.

These monthly events feature brief presentations from doctoral students describing their completed research, or projects that are currently in progress, and give an opportunity for faculty and other students to discuss.  Hosted by the Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research, in collaboration with the EdD program, the brown bags are facilitated and organized by EALR assistant professor Dr. Jie Zhang and take place in Gary Ransdell Hall 3073.  A light lunch is provided to attendees.

In February, Trudy Crossbourne shared research she has conducted under the supervision of Dr. Kimberlee Everson exploring the reasons why African American families choose homeschooling.  Trudy shared the challenges of conducting research on homeschoolers and the limitations in current literature, plus pointed toward opportunities for future study in this area.

Faculty and students listen and discuss
Faculty and students listen and discuss

In March, Louis Zabaneh provided background on the educational landscape in his home country of Belize, especially teacher training. He discussed a Sustainable Development Human Capabilities model, based in part on the work of Indiana economist and philosopher Amartya Sen, that he plans to use in carrying out his dissertation research.  Louis is working closely with EALR associate professor Dr. Tom Stewart to facilitate a potential partnership between WKU and the University of Belize to support teacher training in that country.

This semester EALR is hosting a visiting scholar from Ankara, Turkey.  Nuray Kisa is a doctoral student at Hacettepe University in educational sciences, visiting WKU under the sponsorship of EALR associate professor Dr. Gary Houchens.  Nuray has been conducting survey research exploring the perceptions of Turkish school principals, university professors, and district-level education officials on the gap between theory and practice in educational research.  She will share results of her study at the April 5 brown bag.

Finally, Dr. Zhang and doctoral students will present May 3 on the topic of conducting program evaluations.  To attend the April 5 brown bag with Nuray or the May 3 session with Dr. Zhang, please RSVP to EALR Office Associate Missy Pardue at Melissa.pardue@wku.edu.  All brown bag lunches are at noon in GRH Room 3073.

EALR Welcomes New Faculty Members

WKU’s Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research is pleased to welcome two new associate professors to the faculty, Dr. Janet Hurt and Dr. Stacy Leggett.

Dr. Janet Hurt is a veteran Kentucky educator who has served as an EALR adjunct instructor in the past.  Over her career as a school leader Dr. Hurt has served as a teacher, guidance counselor, principal, and associate superintendent in two districts as well as the director of the GRREC/OVEC Race to the Top grant.  She regularly provides consulting services to schools and districts. Dr. Hurt will teach in the principal preparation program and also courses for other certifications including supervisor of instruction and director of pupil personnel. She is currently spearheading a revision and update to the department’s superintendent program.  Dr. Hurt earned a Ph.D. in 2008 from the University of Louisville and conducts qualitative research on a variety of educational topics.

“I am honored to be joining the Educational,  Administration, Leadership and Research department at WKU as an associate professor,” Dr. Hurt said.  “It is an outstanding department with top-notch faculty, administrators and staff who consistently model excellence.  I am delighted to be part of a group of professionals who work hard every day to provide an exceptional education for aspiring school and district leaders.”

Dr. Stacy Leggett joins the EALR team from her most recent role as Director of Secondary and Career-Technical Education for the Martin County school district in North Carolina.  Dr. Leggett is a 2015 graduate from The George Washington University with an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.  She was the recipient of the Achilles-Harper-Swenson Emerging Research Award at the 2013 CREATE Conference.  She taught high school math and social studies for 13 years before becoming a school and then district level administrator.  She practices quantitative research methods and is interested in principal and teacher evaluation.  Stacy will primarily teach in EALR’s principal certification program.

“I am excited about the opportunity to join the WKU EALR faculty,” said Dr. Leggett.  “I hope that the experiences I bring will help me contribute to this great team and ultimately make a positive impact on leading, teaching, and learning in Kentucky.”

Both Dr. Hurt and Dr. Leggett will advise students in the WKU Doctorate in Educational Leadership program.  We welcome them to the team!

Dr. Wilson presents on qualitative dissertations

Dr. Kristin Wilson, associate professor of post-secondary education in WKU’s Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research will present on qualitative research approaches on October 20, 2015, 12:00 noon Central time, in Gary Ransdell Hall 3073.

Part of EALR’s “Brown Bag” research luncheon series, Dr. Wilson’s talk will address common misunderstandings or classical misconceptions about the qualitative tradition.  The basic steps of writing a qualitative doctoral dissertation will be outlined and ways to develop qualitative research designs will be suggested.

A light lunch will be served so if you plan to attend please email EALR Office Associate Missy Pardue at Melissa.pardue@wku.edu by Friday, October 16.

EALR’s Dr. Wilson participates in The Year of South Africa

WKU Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research associate professor Dr. Kristin Wilson traveled with a delegation of faculty, staff, and students to South Africa last summer to help kick off the university’s celebration of the Year of South Africa.  WKU undergraduate journalism major Tyler Essary, who traveled with the delegation, produced a video capturing many of the sights and sounds enjoyed by the team.

Dr. Wilson recently shared her own insights about the experience with EALR faculty and will play a leading role in campus-wide activities celebrating the Year of South Africa.


Drs. DeSander and Houchens discuss education topics on WKYU-PBS “Outlook”

WKU Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research Department Chair Dr. Marguerita DeSander and associate professor Dr. Gary Houchens recently appeared on the WKYU-PBS program “Outlook.”  With host Barbara Deeb, they discussed recent developments in Kentucky’s teacher evaluation system, the pushback against standardized testing, and more.  Their segment begins around the 10:40 mark.

Dr. Houchens reflected more on these topics on his own blog.


EALR welcomes new faculty member, Dr. Tom Stewart

TomWKU’s Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research is pleased to welcome its newest faculty member, Dr. Tom Stewart.

Dr. Stewart is a veteran Kentucky educator and experienced university faculty member.  He will teach primarily in the school principal certification and supervisor of instruction programs.

A 2011 graduate of WKU’s Doctorate of Educational Leadership program, Dr. Stewart has taught elementary, middle, and high school students, served as a district instructional supervisor, and has worked for the Kentucky Department of Education as a Highly-Skilled Educator and Educational Recovery Leader.  He is also a former professor of education at Austin Peay State University.

Dr. Stewart regularly provides consulting and professional development services to area schools and districts, leads Diagnostic Reviews for AdvancED, and conducts qualitative research studies on the contemplative dimensions of teaching and school leadership.

“I am sincerely honored to be returning to my alma mater as a faculty member,” Dr. Stewart said.  “I look forward to continuing and extending my work with practicing school and school district leaders, as well as learning with my colleagues and aspiring school leaders at WKU.”

Keaster named professor emeritus

ric_keasterAt their April 24, 2015 meeting the Western Kentucky University Board of Regents named Dr. Ric Keaster professor emeritus.  Dr. Keaster retired from the Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research in December 2014. “Professor emeritus” is an honorary rank used to designate retired faculty members who have exhibited a career of distinguished service to the university and to their academic field.

A reception for Dr. Keaster will be held on Friday, May 15, from noon to 2:00 p.m. Central time in Room 3086 of Gary Ransdell Hall.  All friends, former students, and colleagues of Dr. Keaster are invited to attend and celebrate his career.  Please RSVP to EALR Office Associate Missy Pardue at Melissa.pardue@wku.edu.

Read more about Dr. Keaster’s accomplishments here.