SOE News

Jill Fitzgerald will be interim dean
Search for new dean begins

Jill Fitzgerald, senior associate dean and professor of literacy in the School of Education, has been appointed by Provost Bernadette Gray-Little to serve as interim dean of the School beginning July 1, 2007.

Gray-Little announced the appointment in a meeting with School of Education faculty April 16. She said Fitzgerald’s prominence as a scholar and experience as an administrator uniquely qualify her to lead the School through this transition.  

“We are fortunate to have someone of Dr. Fitzgerald's experience and stature to assume the role of interim dean,” Gray-Little said. “Dr. Fitzgerald is committed to continuing the School’s focus on excellence and innovation as we conduct a search for the next permanent dean.”

Fitzgerald said that following the departure of Tom James as dean, she expects to continue his vision and initiatives during her term. “My main goal is to keep the momentum going,” she said “We’ve been reaching high and leaning forward. We have significant initiatives underway and others waiting in the wings. I want to do everything I can to support this work and sustain the momentum.”  

Fitzgerald has been on the faculty of the School of Education since 1979 and has served in the administration since 2000. She has had a prolific scholarly career in emergent, early school and bilingual literacy. In 1998, she received the American Educational Research Association’s Outstanding Review of Research Award and, with colleague George Noblit, she received the 2000 International Reading Association’s Dina Feitelson Award for Research.

Her teaching has been in the area of literacy. Hallmarks of her career include a keen interest in mentoring doctoral students and assuring that her research results are written for both researcher and practitioner audiences.

Fitzgerald began her career as an elementary teacher and reading specialist in New York, Ohio and West Virginia. She took a one-year reassignment from the University in 1995-96 to be a full-time first-grade teacher in a neighboring school district.

In 1979, Fitzgerald earned her Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo in research and evaluation in reading. She holds a master of science degree in elementary education from the State University College of New York at Cortland and a baccalaureate degree in general literature from Harpur College, State University of New York, Binghamton.

A leadership team will assist Fitzgerald during the transition. Clinical Assistant Professor Deborah Eaker-Rich, who serves as the School’s quality assurance leader, has been named interim assistant dean. She will join Wendy Borman, assistant dean for external relations, and Deborah Lane, assistant dean for administration and finance, on the dean’s leadership team.

National search for new dean is underway

A national search is being conducted to select a new dean for the School of Education. Jean Folkerts, dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is chair of the search committee. Folkerts said that the committee is eager to receive nominations and comments. Please submit comments by e-mail to Dean Folkerts’ assistant, Jo Bass, at, and enter “School of Education” in the subject line.