Indiana State University Newsroom

Inaugural cohort completes Woodrow Wilson MBA in Education Leadership program

August 22, 2017

The Woodrow Wilson MBA Fellows in Education Leadership's first cohort of 13 students at Indiana State University graduated this month, after completing the 36-hour program in a little over a year.

"The Woodrow Wilson Foundation was looking for a new pathway to prepare building principals. They recognized the important role that the building level principal plays in student learning and were interested in preparing principals who were equipped to be change agents and risk-takers. They conceptualized that blending the best of the MBA with educational leadership knowledge would be a better pathway to develop these types of school leaders," said Jack Maynard, the program's director. "When the foundation approached us with this idea, we thought it would be an interesting project to have the faculty from the Scott College of Business and the Bayh College of Education to work together to develop and deliver the program."

With support and leadership from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship, the Bayh College of Education's department of educational leadership and the Scott College of Business spent a year developing the program. The program includes nine business courses, three education courses that includes a year-long internship to prepare fellows for the licensure exam to become a principal.

"I was intrigued by the marriage of business and education," said William Durham, director of The Excel Center-Meadows in Indianapolis and one of the graduates of the program. "One of the most valuable things I learned in the program was the value of culture and how culture has a direct correlation to teacher effectiveness, which in turn has a direct correlation to student achievement. Because most charter schools in Indiana are smaller schools, it is imperative that the school's culture is reflective the charter agreement, which is accomplished by having the culture of the school embedded in all aspects of the school."

The nine traditional MBA courses were redesigned to include content related to business and education, and three educational leadership courses that focus on the role of the principal in high-performing schools. The faculty were firm in making sure the students understood that these principles apply to the world of business and the world of education, whether it was finance, marketing, human resource management or leadership.

"To date, this has been an exciting project," Maynard said. "It was great to see the faculty get excited about the possibilities of the program and what it might do for schools. We felt we had everything to gain and nothing to lose by participating in this national program and to become together and we became part of a small, national network of universities working with the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Program."

Blending clinical practice in schools with innovative business school coursework, the MBA in Education Leadership is designed to ensure graduates have the knowledge and skills not only to guide schools and districts in a changing education environment, but also close achievement gaps between America's lowest- and highest-performing schools and between the country's top-performing schools and those around the world.

Each fellow's school district is required to place them in an administrative position within one year following graduation, and Indiana State will work with school district partners to develop partnerships that will sustain in-school learning arrangements and mentoring opportunities for fellows.

After becoming part of the fellowship, Cloverdale Community School Corp. educator Christian Frye was placed over school discipline and attendance and is director of the positive behavior support program at Cloverdale Middle School.

"In my current position the ability to analyze data is going to be the most beneficial," Frye said. "I felt that this program would distinguish me from the rest of the field that primarily have a master's in educational leadership and through this program I have become more comfortable running data analysis and analyzing it."

Katie Jenner, senior director of learning and title programs for Madison Consolidated Schools, found the content incredibly applicable to her daily work.

"From studying ways to improve a school corporation's operations using statistical data to learning the value of using video streaming, specifically when marketing schools, there are numerous lessons and ideas generated in every single class that I can use in my task-based and visionary work," Jenner said. "The K-12 education marketplace is becoming more competitive. In my region of the state, parents are really looking at which schools offer the best curriculum and programming before making an education decision for their child. I want to keep learning new strategies and best practice ideas in order to provide our students the very best possible education."

In addition to Indiana State, Indiana University and the University of Indianapolis are also participating in the Woodrow Wilson Fellow Program. New Mexico and Wisconsin also have selected universities in the program. The Woodrow Wilson Foundation administers the programs in Indiana through the generous financial support of Lilly Endowment Inc.

Each fellow is selected from a highly competitive pool of nominees. The fellowship requires that candidates be current educators who are nominated by Indiana school districts or charter schools. In this model, districts must nominate candidates before they can apply and must agree to participate in certain aspects of the program if their nominee is selected.

Fellows are selected based on, among other things, key competencies of effective leaders. Each receives a fellowship stipend that covers tuition and materials for the MBA program, along with executive coaching. In exchange, fellows commit to serve in leadership roles in identified districts/schools for at least three years.

Upon graduation, Indiana State will support fellows with three years of executive coaching through an experienced educator who will assist with three major goals: To improve student performance, to improve their personal growth and to improve their professional growth.
Coaches are required to conduct site visits and help the graduates set targets to meet the goals and help them complete a project addressing an issue in education. The fellows and their coaches will meet monthly and fellows will participate in four professional development weekends.

The Woodrow Wilson Foundation plans to conduct a multi-year research project to track the program's graduates and see if the program impacted the quality of education in Indiana schools.


Photo: - Photo of Indiana State University's Woodrow Wilson MBA Fellows in Education Leadership first cohort of 13 students who graduated this month, after completing the 36-hour program in a little over a year.

Writer: Betsy Simon, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or