University research program moves

After 19 years, the education research program will move to Macalester.

Anissa Stocks

An education policy center is planning to leave the University of Minnesota to move to another local college next month. Beginning Jan. 1, the Center for School Change, a University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs research program committed to improving K-12 education, will move to Macalester College in St. Paul. The center, which has two staff members, works with educators, policymakersand students on national, state and local levels to provide essential tools to improve graduation rates and student achievement in K-12 education. This is the second center to leave the Humphrey Institute this year. This summer, the Center for Democracy and Citizenship left the University for Augsburg College. Macalester Provost Kathleen Murray said the college views the move as âÄúbeneficial to both parties,âÄù and she believes the partnership will increase student engagement in local education programs. âÄúThe Center for School Change is very consistent with MacalesterâÄôs mission âĦ It will provide additional learning opportunities for students,âÄù she said. Julie Lund, communications director for the Humphrey Institute, called the move âÄúsomewhat of a loss.âÄù She said financial realities are what caused the move. Many of the UniversityâÄôs successful centers and programs operate on multi-million dollar annual budgets; entirely grant-funded programs like the center are more set up for smaller institutions like Macalester. âÄúOne size doesnâÄôt always fit all,âÄù she said. Joe Nathan, a former teacher and education researcher who has served as the centerâÄôs director since its opening in 1990, said Macalester offers a compatible setting for the programâÄôs research and policy-making initiatives. âÄúWeâÄôve concluded that given this kind of work, which includes some research and a good deal of grants, that a setting like Macalester would be a more appropriate setting,âÄù he said. Nathan said many of the centerâÄôs initiatives have helped to eliminate the graduation gap between white and black students in Cincinnati, Ohio, while increasing overall graduationrates. Five Minneapolis and St. Paul public charter high schools that the center helped create averaged a higher graduation rate and a higher percentage of students enrolling in higher education than state or district averages, he said. The centerâÄôs initiatives have aided in successes at several of the areaâÄôs 150 charter schools, like the New City School in Minneapolis, he said. The center is entirely grant-and contract-funded. It has received nearly $20 million since its inception through support from federal, state and local funders, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education. Nathan, who has worked at the University for 22 years, said he will continue to teach at the Humphrey Institute. Murray said that even though the center will be in a new spot, it will continue to support community schools and complement MacalesterâÄôs commitment to service. âÄúItâÄôs a win-win situation for our community âĦ We look forward to providing our students with additional learning opportunities through [the program],âÄù she said.