Dean Judy Nichols MitchellBy Judy Nichols Mitchell
Dean, WSU College of Education


“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”—Bill Gates

A top priority at Washington State University is the education of global leaders. The College of Education is exceptionally well suited to that task, because no one has more capacity to empower others than an academic leader—whether a classroom teacher, school administrator, or faculty researcher.

Irene Gonzales surely qualifies as a leader. She taught school for four years, was an elementary principal for 13 years, and for the past four years has served as director of teaching and learning services in Spokane Public Schools. She mentors, supervises, and evaluates 12 school principals. For all of that, she felt there was more she can learn about leadership. So, she is enrolled in our statewide Ed.D. program. By the time she picks up her doctoral diploma in May, she will be better able to help principals tackle 21st century challenges—such as getting children over those headline-grabbing, anxiety-causing achievement tests.

Our Ed.D. degree was designed for administrative leaders such as Irene, helping them incorporate the latest education research findings into their work. We’re proud that we have been selected to participate in the Carnegie Initiative on the Professional Education Doctorate, which means we will work alongside representatives of 19 other universities to create and improve Ed.D. programs. As a result of that process, we expect to add Ed.D. options in community college leadership and teacher leadership.

The college promotes leadership in many other ways, including:

  • A minor in leadership studies. Its core courses attract up to 200 undergraduates at a time from such disciplines as engineering, business, political science, and communications, as well as education.
  • Certification programs. Seventy percent of Washington educators who get their post-master’s superintendent certificates earn them at WSU.
  • First-rate faculty. We hire faculty who are leaders in their fields, as evidenced by recent national awards—to Cathryn Claussen from the Sport and Recreation Law Association, Len Foster from the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and Terry Young from the International Reading Association.
  • Support National Board candidates. Each year we support approximately 200 teachers who are seeking National Board Certification. These teachers develop a portfolio of their teaching practices, to demonstrate their impact on student learning. Teachers who certify are recognized nationally as having met the highest standards of the profession. Our certification rate for first-attempt candidates has consistently surpassed the national rate (roughly 39 percent) and the state rate (48 percent), with 73 percent of our teachers certifying this year.
  • Support for diversity. Our Future Teachers and Leaders of Color program is helping to ensure that educators provide an ethic and cultural mirror for America’s students. The program provides faculty mentoring, career guidance, student support services, recruitment activities, and scholarship assistance.

Most people associate the College of Education with training teachers, and that is a big part of what we do. But our larger purpose is to develop the potential of students in all of our programs—so that they, in turn, will model leadership for the many people whose lives they touch. That ripple effect will help ensure that the world has the skilled citizens it needs to govern, produce, and educate in the 21st century.