College of Education’s Leonard Kaplan Education Collaborative awarded AAUA’s highest institutional honor

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On Friday, June 9, 2017, Jerome Neuner the Vice Chairperson for awards of the American Association of University Administrators (AAUA) presented William Hill, Assistant Dean for Administrative and Organizational Studies on behalf of the Leonard Kaplan Education Collaborative for Critical Urban Studies, with the 2017 John L. Blackburn Award at their seminar and awards luncheon held in New Orleans. The Wayne State University College of Education initiative encourages faculty to explore important topics in education with the community.

Named for an AAUA pioneer and former long-time general secretary, the award recognizes outstanding examples of college/university leadership that demonstrate creative solutions to common problems in higher education. The mission of the collaborative is to facilitate active research, service, and dialogue in P-20 education. The membership includes university researchers, public educators, teachers of the year, and community leaders working to better understand the relationship among urban youth, professional knowledge, social justice, and educational institutions. Together they promote and advocate for effective and excellent urban education. During the Collaborative’s existence, it has had an impact on the discussions surrounding urban education in the State of Michigan and City of Detroit through events, activities and collaborative action. “I am honored and humbled that the Kaplan Education Collaborative has been chosen to receive this award. I appreciate the AAUA for recognizing our efforts to serve and support the educational community in Detroit and throughout Michigan,” said William Hill, Ed.D., assistant dean of the Division of Administrative and Organizational Studies. “The college and university have an urban mission, and we believe we have a responsibility not only to prepare educators but also to help improve education through building relationships, application of research and creative use of resources. Through ongoing dialogue with state and local leaders, school districts, and the community, we want to help create the first-class educational system our children and communities need and deserve.”

Founded in 2014, the Kaplan Education Collaborative was created to honor the work and vision of Leonard Kaplan, Ed.D., an internationally recognized scholar and professor in the College of Education. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, Kaplan was an uncompromising advocate for the social and affective well-being of the “whole child” in America's schools.

The Kaplan Education Collaborative continues his legacy by producing high-quality, interdisciplinary and locally relevant research for community organizations, educational stakeholders, regional education reporters, educational policy makers and peer-reviewed journals.

“Under Bill Hill’s leadership, the Kaplan Education Collaborative has attracted a consistent group of faculty and students across the college who have developed a number of impressive initiatives,” said R. Douglas Whitman, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Education. “The work the members are doing to engage the college and community in efforts to improve the accessibility, quality and delivery of education is commendable. I congratulate Bill and all those involved on earning this well-deserved distinction.”

Last year, the Kaplan Education Collaborative hosted two community conversations that brought experts and educators together with the public to discuss and develop strategies for improving education in the state. “Making Michigan a Top 10 Education State in 10 Years” featured Brian Whiston, superintendent of public instruction for the Michigan Department of Education, who joined superintendents, administrators, and educators from local school districts; and Wayne State faculty in discussing what it would take to improve the state’s ranking. During “Achieving Education Success: Lessons from the Front,” David L. Kirp, a professor of public policy at the University of California-Berkeley and a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, joined local superintendents to share ideas to boost student achievement, create high-performing schools and strengthen public education.

In collaboration with the Detroit Public School Community District, the Kaplan Education Collaborative submitted a grant proposal to the Institute of Education Sciences. Funding will allow the collaborative to provide research briefs on essential policy issues — including common enrollment, community involvement, a balanced school year, chronic absenteeism and other issues — and partner with district officials on research that will be used to establish processes for continuous improvement. The Kaplan Education Collaborative is also working with the district to develop other academic initiatives that would prepare the next generation of educators in metropolitan Detroit and throughout Michigan.

“The Collaborative is committed to helping address current challenges and problems in education,” said Hill. “This award demonstrates that we are moving in the right direction and certainly motivates us to continue our efforts.” Dan L. King (’79), President and Chief Executive Officer of AAUA and alum of Wayne State University College of Education was present at the luncheon to see William Hill accept the award on behalf of the College of Education and Wayne State University.

For more information about the Leonard Kaplan Education Collaborative for Critical Urban Studies, visit