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Williamson McDiarmid, new dean, to arrive in January

Bill McDiarmid
Williamson McDiarmid

G. Williamson McDiarmid, Boeing Professor of Teacher Education at the University of Washington, Seattle, will become the twelfth dean to lead the School of Education when he assumes the position on Jan. 1, 2009.

“We are delighted that Bill McDiarmid will be the next dean of the School of Education” said Bernadette Gray-Little, the University’s executive vice chancellor and provost. “His experience, expertise and values are ideally suited to lead the School. We look forward to having him join the Carolina community.”

A native of Raeford, N.C., McDiarmid graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1969 with a Bachelor of Arts degree with Highest Honors in American Studies. He taught high school English, literature and history in Athens, Greece, before pursuing his graduate studies at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, earning a Doctor of Education degree in Administration, Planning and Social Policy in 1984.

“Dr. McDiarmid is nationally known for creating imaginative teacher education programs,” said Interim Dean Jill Fitzgerald. “For most of his career he has accomplished scholarship and practice dedicated to the enhancement of schooling. He will be a source of inspiration for us as our School continues to address critical North Carolina teacher shortage issues.

“As well, he brings to our campus an extensive background of international experiences and a deep understanding of educational research,” Fitzgerald noted. “We look forward to his leadership.”

Working for inclusion and addressing the needs of under-served students, schools and communities has been a focus of McDiarmid’s career. “Having come originally from one of the poorest counties in North Carolina, I have long been aware not only of the injustices inherent in the institutional, economic and social status quo but also of the resources foregone in ignoring the potential contributions of marginalized individuals and communities,” he said. “Bringing these resources to bear on a range of problems has been a goal of my life.”

Building partnerships to improve learning among students and educators has been another focus for McDiarmid. “My work in building university-school-community partnerships bears witness to my conviction that the formidable problems that high-poverty schools and pupils face require all the resources we can muster—from universities, schools, unions, communities and parents, civic groups, state and local agencies, private businesses and foundations, and professional organizations,” he said.

McDiarmid sees the role of a school of education at a research-extensive flagship university to be “supporting and sustaining schools and educational professionals who have the knowledge, skills, commitment and resources to do whatever is necessary to nurture and educate every single child to be knowledgeable, critical and contributing citizens of a democratic society.”

According to McDiarmid, “to achieve this vision requires sustained engagement with others within and outside of the University; research geared to the problems that educators, policymakers, families and communities face; educator preparation programs grounded in research, wisdom of practice, and systematic evaluative data; and faculty and staff who have the support and resources they need to do their jobs exceptionally well.”

At the University of Washington, McDiarmid has worked with the Seattle Public Schools, Seattle Education Association and UW College of Arts and Sciences to create the Teaching/Learning Partnership program to prepare mid-career professionals to teach mathematics and science in high-needs middle schools.

He also has served as co-director of the Washington Center for Teaching and Learning, a nexus for research and development activities of the UW College of Education, the UW College of Arts and Sciences and partner schools ranging from preschools to high schools.

Additionally, he is a senior fellow with Teachers for a New Era, a national project at UW funded by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, which focuses on renewing pre-service teacher preparation and tracking the classroom performance of graduates.

Prior to coming to UW, McDiarmid served on the faculties of the University of Alaska Anchorage, the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Michigan State University. His work in Alaska included securing a $6.2 million Title II Teacher Quality grant to create the Alaska Partnership for Teacher Enhancement, serving as director of the Institute of Social and Economic Research, conducting research on Alaska Native education, teaching in a remote Eskimo village school and creating a program to prepare teachers for Alaska’s small rural high schools.

At Michigan State, he served as co-director of the National Center for Research on Teacher Learning, helped create MSU’s five-year preservice teacher preparation program and worked with the Aga Khan University in Pakistan to establish a program to prepare teacher educators in Pakistan.

The author of three books and numerous journal articles and research monographs, McDiarmid received the Outstanding Contribution to Interpretative Research Award from the American Educational Research Association in 1995 and a Spencer Fellowship from the National Academy of Education in 1990.

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