School of Education News

Search underway for next director of Wisconsin Center for Education Research

August 28, 2019

UW–Madison’s School of Education is beginning its process for finding the next director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER).

A 13-member search-and-screen committee is being led by WIDA Executive Director Tim Boals and Percival Matthews, an associate professor with the Department of Educational Psychology and a WCER researcher. The committee is strongly encouraging members of the UW–Madison community to nominate candidates or to apply directly. A position description is now posted.

Diana Hess
“This position is one of the most important in the School of Education and, more broadly, on our campus,” says School of Education Dean Diana Hess. “We’re looking for someone with the experience and vision to not only maintain, but to build upon the center’s excellence.”

With about 500 faculty, academic staff, and students, plus annual expenditures of more than $80 million, WCER is one of the oldest, largest, and most influential university-based education research centers in the United States.

Housed within the School of Education and founded in 1964, WCER’s research and dissemination activities are diverse and international in scope, with funding from a variety of federal agencies, private foundations, and public service agencies. WCER scholars include faculty and research scientists in education, psychology, sociology, mathematics, engineering, economics, health, the arts, and other disciplines. The center is home to 120 grant-funded projects.

WCER also has a significant fee-for-service portfolio that includes WIDA, a global leader in assessments, standards, and training for educators of multilingual learners.

Reporting to the dean of the School of Education, the next director of WCER will be called upon to provide exceptional organizational leadership that encourages innovation, provides first-rate service to researchers in the center, and supports the growth of both the research and fee-for-service missions of the center. Moreover, it will be essential that the next director of WCER ensures that it continues to be a place where undergraduate and graduate students have meaningful opportunities to hone their research skills.

WCER logoThe next director will also be expected to further elevate the center’s reputation and distinction across the UW–Madison campus, the country, and the world.

Robert Mathieu, the Albert. E. Whitford Professor of Astronomy and an international leader in advancing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) higher education, is leaving his post as director of WCER in December. Mathieu was named interim director of WCER in August 2013 and has served as its director since April 2015.

“Professor Mathieu has done an excellent job as the director of WCER,” says Hess. “Under his leadership, the center has grown dramatically and he has successfully spearheaded the development of a number of important and influential initiatives.”

In addition to Boals and Matthews, members of the WCER director search-and-screen committee are:

• Leah Nell Adams, program manager, WCER
• Mike Beall, director of Gear Learning, WCER
• Mariana Castro, deputy director, WCER
• Amy Claessens, associate professor, Department of Educational Policy Studies
• Hala Ghousseini, associate professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction
• Annalee Good, co-director, Wisconsin Evaluation Collaborative, WCER
• Mary Hegge, human resources manager, WCER
• Melinda Leko, professor and chair, Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education
• Nora Cate Schaeffer, faculty director of the University of Wisconsin Survey Center, and professor, Department of Sociology
• David Shaffer, professor, Department of Educational Psychology
• Xueli Wang, professor, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis

The School of Education has retained Isaacson, Miller to assist in the search for the next director. For additional details about the position, and to submit both nominations and applications, visit this Isaacson, Miller web page.

For questions or comments, contact Carole Kolb, administrative search coordinator, at or 608-890-1661.

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