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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Academics & Research

Education dean steps down to teach


College of Education Dean Robert Wimpelberg will step down Sept. 1 to become part of the UH faculty and to focus on a project titled “C3 Alliance: Cradle to College and Career.” | Steven Oster/Houstonian

After a decade of serving as dean of the College of Education, Robert Wimpelberg has announced he will step down.

Wimpelberg’s decision to resign from the administrative position is fueled by a desire to contribute to the College as a faculty member.

“I’m highly interested in joining faculty for the first time,” said Wimpelberg, who will officially leave his post Sept. 1. “Primarily, I want to spend more time on a project that I have gotten more and more involved with. It is a project around the idea of developing kids and youth.”

The project is called “C3 Alliance: Cradle to College and Career,” and it will involve working with the community and getting community-wide stakeholders committed to helping raise children. It is expected to launch June 2.

Wimpelberg said the aim of this initiative is not to provide a single solution to the varying educational issues found in different communities, but rather to provide continuous quality improvement through the use of data.

“We are doing this work in Houston, in a kind of hub-and- spokes model, so that we have a central group driving the whole thing that is being co-chaired by Renu Khator,” Wimpelberg said.

In addition to working as director of this initiative, Wimpelberg plans to remain in the domain of educational leadership at the college by teaching the K-12 leadership program, the higher education program or both.

Wimpelberg’s interest and passion in educational leadership has grown with time.

After completing a bachelor’s in Russian language and literature from Yale University in 1968, Wimpelberg taught Russian to middle school students for seven years.

“It was during this time that I got interested in school leadership, and I moved away from Slavic languages to start a master’s degree in school leadership at the University of Chicago,” he said.

During his first year in the master’s program, Wimpelberg was invited to join the doctoral degree program and was offered a Ford Foundation Fellowship, which he accepted.

In 1981, Wimpelberg was awarded a doctoral degree in administrative, institutional and policy studies from the University of Chicago.

Wimpelberg served as the Dean of the College of Education at the University of New Orleans for eight years before his move to UH.

“I was essentially brought here to bring the college into the tier one conversation,” Wimpelberg said. “What that means is that we have hired young faculty who are very research-oriented, and we have been working with the whole faculty to bring them along in this kind of thinking.

“In 10 years the college has come a long way. Many came in a day when we were primarily about teaching and working in outreach with the communities. We haven’t given any of that up, but what we’ve had to do is to sharpen the edge of research.”

Wimpelberg said the College is headed in the right direction, making the transition a little smoother.

“If I look back 10 years at what has really changed in a major way, other than the faculty and what they are able to do in research, it’s our support and infrastructure that has improved,” he said. “I am really proud of the progress we have made.”

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