The University of Chicago Urban Education Institute has a new leader, following the appointment of Sara Ray Stoelinga as the Sara Liston Spurlark Director. Stoelinga will oversee all aspects of UEI, which combines research, practice and policy to improve pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade education for children in urban schools across the country.
Stoelinga succeeds Prof. Timothy Knowles, who has been appointed Pritzker Director of UChicago Urban Labs, a new initiative that complements UEI in producing rigorous research to inform policy on a broad set of urban issues. Knowles also will serve as chairman of UEI, providing institutional oversight and supporting Stoelinga in her role as director.
“UEI is fortunate to have Sara take the helm,” said Knowles, the John Dewey Clinical Professor in the Committee on Education. “She was instrumental in the conceptualization of UEI and is a gifted leader. UEI’s work to improve the quality of schooling nationwide will be in excellent hands.”
“Sara has been instrumental to UEI’s success, and as the director she will deepen UEI’s influence on schooling and educational outcomes across the country,” said Provost Eric D. Isaacs.
Stoelinga is an accomplished leader, scholar and teacher. She has served in a broad range of roles at UEI, most recently as senior director and clinical professor in the Committee on Education. For the last four years, she has co-led all aspects of UEI, including the Consortium on Chicago School Research, the UChicago Charter School, the UChicago Urban Teacher Education Program and UChicago Impact, for which she serves as board chair.
“I am inspired each and every day by my colleagues at UEI—by their focus on the mission, and by how deeply they believe that students can achieve at high levels,” said Stoelinga. “UEI’s mission of creating knowledge to produce reliably excellent urban schooling is among the most critical levers we have to reduce social inequality, better society, and transform the lives and trajectories of young people growing up in urban communities.”
A UChicago graduate, Stoelinga earned her bachelor’s degree and PhD in sociology. She has written and spoken extensively on urban schooling, publishing numerous articles and two books focused on teacher leadership. She has taught with the Urban Teacher Education Program, in the College and in the Graham School. Recently she developed a series of courses on urban schooling for College students enrolled in UChicago Careeers in Education Professions, and this year conceptualized and taught one of the University’s first MOOCs on the history of public schooling and school reform in the United States.
UEI achieves its mission through four primary components:
- The UChicago Consortium on Chicago School Research leads UEI’s applied research effort, informing practice, policy and the public about schooling in Chicago.
- The UChicago Urban Teacher Education Program prepares exemplary teachers for Chicago Public Schools while empirically testing a model for urban teacher preparation and support.
- The UChicago Charter School educates 1,900 primarily African American students from Chicago’s South Side, with a singular dedication to ensuring every student completes college. UChicago Charter had 100 percent of seniors admitted to college the past three years and the highest college enrollment rate of non-selective schools in the city of Chicago in 2014.
- UChicago Impact provides pre-K–12 schools, school systems and states with the highest-quality, research-based diagnostic tools and training designed to produce reliably excellent schooling.