Message from the Chair

Welcome to the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy, part of the Graduate School of Education at the University at Buffalo.

Nathan Daun-Barnett portrait

Nathan Daun-Barnett, PhD
Chair and Associate Professor

Department of Educational Leadership and Policy
Graduate School of Education
University at Buffalo

It is my pleasure to welcome you — on behalf of our faculty — to the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy (ELP) at the University at Buffalo. We are at a critical moment in our nation’s history and education is a central part of the national discourse. Postsecondary education has become the gateway to a middle-class lifestyle in the U.S. and a strong foundation in elementary and secondary education is essential for today’s students. The good news is that policymakers and voters alike recognize the importance of education in the lives of all members of our communities, even when they disagree about our public investment in that education. The challenge we face as educators is that expectations are high, resources are low and public demands for accountability continue to grow. Now, more than any other time in my career, the entire system of education in the U.S. requires strong, reliable and capable leadership that understands our history, recognizes the important challenges we face, has a vision for a high-quality educational enterprise for all and can mobilize future educators to advance that goal. You are the next generation of educational leaders and we are excited to help prepare you for this important role.

Our mission is simple: to prepare educational leaders, researchers and policymakers to identify, understand and solve complex problems facing education — particularly related to the inequitable distribution of opportunities by race, class, gender and national origin in a global context. In many respects, we have much to celebrate. The U.S. is a global leader in terms of the quality of postsecondary education. We have a higher number of colleges and universities per capita than any other nation in the world and our top research universities routinely dominate international rankings for institutional quality. Students from around the world seek a high-quality education in the U.S., which is a testament to the reputation we have earned over more than a century. While we have much to celebrate, it is important for those of us in education to recognize that our system is only as strong as our willingness and ability to provide a high-quality education to all students — irrespective of their social and economic background — along the PK–20 continuum. That will be the central challenge for educators in the 21st century. Our promise to you is that you will complete your program and earn a degree that will prepare you to assume the mantle of leadership in education, no matter which program you pursue.

Our department offers five different master’s programs, four doctoral programs, four different certification programs — including our renowned Leadership Initiative for Tomorrow’s Schools (LIFTS)  program for the preparation of building and district level K–12 administrators — and an undergraduate minor in education leadership and policy for equity. All of our programs will help you to understand the critical role education plays across the globe, identify the complex problems and challenges facing educators, policy makers and civic leaders, and develop strategies and solutions to address those challenges moving forward.  No matter the path you choose, you will be prepared to make a meaningful difference in education.

What makes our programs unique is our faculty commitment to the quality of the educational experience for our students. Our faculty are internationally-renowned experts in their academic disciplines and actively engaged in the communities they serve. For example, Dr. Lois Weis, a SUNY Distinguished Professor, has done groundbreaking research in educational access and equity and her work is internationally recognized. They are also engaged in their local communities and schools. Drs. Corrie Stone Johnson and Tom Ramming are centrally involved in the collaboration between GSE and Buffalo Public Schools at Build Academy, providing an example of how our faculty are finding ways to make a difference in the community we serve by providing future educators with the experiences that will allow them to lead in the future. And Dr. Raechele Pope has done highly-regarded work on multicultural competence in higher education and is working to help colleges and universities find new ways to create campus environments that value diverse perspectives and support all students in their postsecondary pursuits.

We also offer an array of opportunities for students to apply what they learn in the classroom to their respective educational settings, ranging from internships and fellowships to graduate assistantships. This year we will hire 30 interns and an additional seven graduate assistants on GEAR UP and the FAFSA Completion Project to assist Buffalo Public School students with the college choice process, including financial aid applications. No matter how you plan to make a difference, there are opportunities for you here at UB.

I am excited to welcome you into the ELP community and I look forward to witnessing your transformation as an educational leader equipped to address the complex challenges facing education today. Even more, I look forward to seeing the contributions you make in the coming years. Education needs strong leadership and we are excited that you have chosen us as partners in your journey.

In Service,

Nathan J. Daun-Barnett
Chair and Associate Professor