Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

University announces MBA in school leadership

The University of Denver has created an MBA program in school leadership designed to teach students business and management skills necessary to open and lead charter schools.

The new program pulls together resources from the Daniels College of Business, the Morgridge College of Education and Get Smart Schools, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing the number of high-quality schools serving low-income students in Colorado’s Front Range.

Daniels will augment its MBA core curriculum with a specially-designed concentration in education, developed in cooperation with Morgridge and Get Smart Schools.

Morgridge Dean Greg Anderson says an important goal of the program is to promote interdisciplinary learning. He notes that the learning approach combines traditional education with practical know-how in opening charter schools.

Charter schools operate independently from other K-12 schools and require principals with instructional, organizational, cultural and financial management expertise. While some charter schools have been successful in school districts around the country, one of the biggest barriers to creating a successful new charter school is a lack of qualified leaders.

“As our students move through the program, they’ll have opportunities to work with leaders from industry, entrepreneurial ventures, nonprofits and government,” says Daniels Dean Christine Riordan. “What they will gain is a much more diverse and in-depth perspective of educational leadership than those in traditional business or educational programs. It’s a true collaboration between the Daniels and Morgridge Colleges to provide a sound business foundation to the educational process.”

There will be a rigorous selection process for the first group of students, who will start classes in March 2010. By August 2012, participants will have completed their MBA and residencies and had five to six months of dedicated planning time to prepare for opening schools. There will also be financial incentives available for a limited number of participants, including tuition loan forgiveness and residency stipends.

Colorado Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien, a founding board member of Get Smart Schools, has played an active role in the creation of the new program.

“The MBA in school leadership program is one of the most exciting initiatives in school reform in our state,” O’Brien says. “The program will produce a new generation of entrepreneurs who will change the face of education and will create schools where students are prepared for success in the 21st century.”

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