Dr. Wilson earns Fulbright to study in South Africa

University of Limpopo
University of Limpopo

Dr. Kristin Wilson, associate professor in WKU’s Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research, has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to conduct research in South Africa during the next three years. Dr. Wilson uses qualitative methods to study post-secondary education. Through her Fulbright she will explore college persistence patterns among South African students, primarily at the University of Limpopo.

During the Summer of 2015, Dr. Wilson participated in the Sophia Zuheir Endowed International Fellowship program, which sponsored a group of WKU faculty members to visit South Africa over a three-week period. She made contacts with various universities there and leveraged the experience into a successful Fulbright application.

Traditionally Fulbright fellowships are for a six-month stay in a host country, but Dr. Wilson received one of the first “flexible” Fulbrights, which will allow her to visit for two months each year over a three year period. The extended engagement will allow her to follow students she is studying over the majority of their university experience.

Dr. Wilson joined the faculty of WKU in 2013. She teaches post-secondary leadership and qualitative research methods courses in the Doctor of Educational Leadership program.

EALR professor Dr. Gary Houchens appointed to state board of education

Dr. Gary Houchens
Dr. Gary Houchens

This past May, Governor Matt Bevin appointed EALR associate professor Dr. Gary Houchens to a four-year term on the Kentucky Board of Education.  Dr. Houchens was sworn in to service on the 11-member board on June 8.  The Kentucky Board of Education helps establish policy and provides oversight to the Kentucky Department of Education.

“I’m tremendously honored by this opportunity,” Dr. Houchens said. “I’ve devoted my career to improving leadership and student outcomes for Kentucky’s schools and will do my best to bring those experiences and perspectives to the work of the Board.”  Dr. Houchens said he anticipates the board will be actively engaged in work to overhaul the state’s school accountability system and revisions to the teacher and school principal evaluation programs.

Dr. Houchens is a former teacher, assistant principal, principal, and school district administrator.  He joined the faculty of WKU in 2010. He primarily teaches courses in the principal certification program but also advises doctoral students and is engaged in several on-going research initiatives.  Dr. Houchens received the 2016 College of Education and Behavioral Sciences Faculty Excellence Award for Student Advising.

Dr. Everson helps launch International Year of South Korea

Dr. Kimberlee Everson, assistant professor in WKU’s Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research and researcher methodologist for the WKU Doctor of Educational Leadership program, was selected to participate in the Zuheir Sofia Endowed International Faculty Seminar (ZSEIFS) program during the summer of 2016 and visited South Korea as the first step in WKU’s celebration of the International Year of (IYO) South Korea, which lasts throughout the 2016-2017 academic year.

Dr. Everson, second from left, during her visit to South Korea
Dr. Everson, second from left, during her visit to South Korea

Dr. Everson joined a select group of other WKU faculty for a visit of almost three weeks to numerous locations throughout South Korea.  The purpose of the trip was to engage in cultural learning and sharing, but also to make contacts with academic, business, and government leaders for future collaboration.  “The experience in South Korea gave me confidence in my ability to international research in the future,” she said.

ZSEIFS participants like Dr. Everson will help facilitate numerous campus events during IYO South Korea to promote cultural exchange and engagement of entire WKU community in learning about South Korea, including a film festival, workshops, and numerous presentations and seminars.


EALR bids fond farewell to Dr. Zhang

Dr. Jie Zhang
Dr. Jie Zhang

WKU’s Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research recently said goodbye to beloved associate professor Dr. Jie Zhang.

Dr. Zhang has accepted a position at the University of Houston in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.  She said the move was motivated by better job opportunities for her entire family.

“It has been a truly blessed experience working with the most supportive and caring leaders, most collaborative and respectful colleagues, the most thoughtful and motivated EdD students over the past six years,” she said. “It is my first and best academic job as I have grown from PhD to professor at WKU. As I move forward in my career at the University of Houston, I will sorely miss my wonderful colleagues and students at WKU. Very excitingly, EALR is thriving and making strides toward a brighter future. I wish EALR, CEBS, and WKU all my best.”

Dr. Zhang joined the WKU faculty in 2010. She taught research methods classes in WKU’s Doctorate of Educational Leadership program.  She was author and collaborator on numerous grants, including serving on the external evaluation team for the $42 million federal Race to the Top grant administered by the Green River Regional and Ohio Valley Educational Cooperatives.  She was the recipient of a 2013 National Academy of Education’s Spencer Fellowship and received the 2016 CEBS Faculty Excellence Award for Research.

Dr. Zhang touched many lives in her tenure at WKU and EALR wishes her and her family much happiness and great blessings in Houston!

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.