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NMSU College of Business to offer new MBA fellowship with education focus

New Mexico Secretary of Education Hannah Skandera visited the New Mexico State University campus Thursday to announce a new education leadership program designed to help provide the state’s principals, superintendents and other aspiring school leaders with the knowledge and skills to help close the state’s school achievement gap.


NM Education Secretary speaks at lectern
New Mexico Secretary of Education Hannah Skandera announces a new education leadership program during an event at the New Mexico State University campus Thursday, June 4, 2015. NMSU’s College of Business will partner with the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation to create the Woodrow Wilson MBA Fellowship in Education Leadership Program, which will offer funding for school leaders to complete master’s of business administration courses with an emphasis on the education context. (Photo by Andres Leighton)

NMSU’s College of Business will partner with the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation to create the Woodrow Wilson MBA Fellowship in Education Leadership Program, which will offer funding for school leaders to complete master’s of business administration courses with an emphasis on the education context. Offered through NMSU’s College of Business, the program is designed to prepare leaders who will expand the use of analytics and evidence-based practices, raise student performance and improve the quality of school systems and teaching over time.

“We all know how important it is to support our teachers – to help them grow and develop professionally as they help our students learn to succeed in school and in life,” Skandera said at news conference Thursday on campus. “Just as important, however, are our principals and other school leaders. They set the example for students and teachers alike, and leadership by example is critical to helping our students, teachers and schools continue to improve and excel.”

“Our goal is to get principals and other aspiring school leaders to think differently about how to run their schools and districts,” said Steve Elias, director of the new MBA fellowship program and interim associate dean for research in the College of Business. “We want to expose them to business courses that help them think more strategically.”

The Woodrow Wilson MBA Fellowship Program is intended for education professionals nominated by their school districts or charter school leaders. The school systems will partner with participating universities to establish internal pipelines, and use their knowledge of school culture to help transform schools from within.

“Every classroom needs a great teacher, and every school needs a strong principal,” New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said in a statement. “This program will help our state’s best educators lead a school that needs their help. Every child deserves a quality education, and this is yet another effort to make this a reality.”

Funding for the fellowship in New Mexico was provided by a grant from the New Mexico Public Education Department. Both NMSU and the University of New Mexico are collaborating with a variety of area school districts and charter schools to develop partnerships that will sustain in-school learning arrangements and mentoring opportunities for the Woodrow Wilson MBA Fellows.


Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, announced at Thursday’s news conference that the Foundation has also received a $2.1 million grant from the Daniels Fund over the next three years to support expansion of New Mexico’s fellowship programs to include up to 16 fellows in future cohorts. The Daniels Fund provides grants to nonprofit organizations in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming in a variety of areas, including ethics, education and youth development.

Elias said the goal is to have the MBA program fulfill the requirement pertaining to completion of a department-approved administrator prep program for candidates seeking a top-level administrator’s license in New Mexico.

Steven A. Sanchez, deputy superintendent at Las Cruces Public Schools, said the school district has worked closely with Elias during the program’s development.

“We hold great anticipation that this learning initiative will benefit the children of New Mexico,” Sanchez said, “as it is being designed to advance the skills and knowledge of our principals to better serve the diverse learning needs of our students.”

The first cohort of 11 students in NMSU’s two-year program will begin coursework this fall. Course material at NMSU will cover topics including organizational leadership, data analysis, marketing, finance, technology and entrepreneurship – all with an emphasis on how these content areas apply to education.

Each fellow will receive a stipend, which covers full tuition and associated program expenses, including an NMSU boot camp designed to get them up to speed in key College of Business prerequisites. In exchange, each fellow agrees to serve in an approved school or district leadership role within the state for at least three years, with foundation-supported mentoring.

Applications to the program are available by nomination only, and NMSU’s first cohort of fellows has been selected. They are:

• Vangie Barela, Valley View Elementary School
• Estella Becerra, Gadsden Independent School District
• Torrance Gilpin, Gadsden Independent School District
• Toni Hull, Mesa Middle School
• Gabriel Jacquez, Mesa Middle School
• Colette Martinez, Las Cruces Public Schools
• Wendi Miller-Tomlinson, Las Cruces Public Schools
• Latisha Montoya, Sonoma Elementary School
• Frederick Parker, Hillrise Elementary School
• Amber Perry, Hatch Valley Middle School
• Lydia Polanco, Las Cruces Public Schools

To learn more about the Woodrow Wilson MBA Fellowship in Education Leadership at NMSU, visit http://business.nmsu.edu/academics/graduate-programs/mba-ww.