UW Today

This is an archived article.

January 6, 2000

UW hires Crew as executive director of new K-12 leadership institute

News and Information

Rudy Crew, who stepped down Wednesday after four years as chancellor of New York public schools, will become executive director of the University of Washington’s new Institute for K-12 Leadership effective Feb. 1.

Best known in this area as a former superintendent of the Tacoma Public Schools, Crew has been chancellor of New York Public Schools since 1995, one of the longest tenures of any recent chancellor. While leading the district of 1.1 million students, Crew ended the automatic promotion of failing students, changed the practice of giving lifelong job protection to principals and persuaded the state legislature to give the chancellor more say over the appointment of local superintendents. Wednesday the New York school board announced details of the agreement to buy out Crew’s contract, which was to have run through June 2000, after negotiations to extend the contract stalled last month.

Crew will be the first executive director of the institute, envisioned by the UW as an academy for K-12 principals, superintendents and other school leaders. The goal, according to UW President Richard L. McCormick, is to help these leaders acquire the skills to instill excellence at every level of public education – in student achievement, teaching and learning, management, accountability, finance and governance.

“With the appointment of Rudy Crew, the UW takes a giant step in bringing together the necessary resources for making a key contribution to public education in America,” McCormick said. “In Rudy Crew we have the right person to coordinate an effort in which the UW will partner with the public schools, with private foundations and with corporations interested in improving public education. Our goal is nothing less than creating a program to serve as the national model for training future school leaders. We believe the time is right and the resources are available to make such an effort successful.”

The institute will offer training and a forum for current and aspiring school leaders to exchange ideas and help evaluate new initiatives. In addition to principals and superintendents, the institute could serve school board members, parents and teachers on leadership teams, legislators and their staffs and other elected officials.

An example of the kind of program that will be offered is the already existing Smart Tools Academy. The academy was launched last summer by the UW, in collaboration with the Technology Alliance and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as one step in the development of the institute. The Smart Tools Academy, a four-day program on technology and leadership, has already reached hundreds of principals and superintendents in Washington and, beginning this summer, will become a national program.

Among the programs now being formulated is the Building Leadership Team Program, which is being developed in partnership with Seattle School Superintendent Joseph Olchefske and will work with leadership teams from all 97 Seattle Public Schools.

Impetus for creating the institute has come from conversations McCormick and others have had with educators and citizens across the state and from strategic planning sessions with the UW regents.

“When we ask education and business leaders about the most important area in K-12 where the UW could make a contribution, the response is always the same — they want our help attracting, training and supporting the very best leaders for their schools and districts, ” McCormick said.

Since 1998, Crew has led an advisory group helping form the institute. The membership of that group reflects one of the institute’s goals of forging links between education experts at the UW, public K-12 systems, independent schools, business and industry, foundations and government.

The institute will begin as a Northwest or West Coast resource with the goal of one day serving the entire country. A recent national study showed a shortage of qualified principal candidates in almost half of 400 school districts studied. Government statistics show these shortages are likely to grow through the year 2005.

As executive director Crew will receive a salary of $175,000 a year. Crew also will become an affiliate professor of leadership and policy studies in the College of Education, where he will teach and be involved in the university’s principal and superintendent credential program.

Crew was superintendent of Tacoma Public Schools from 1993 to 1995, when he accepted the New York post. Prior to that, he was superintendent of the Sacramento City Unified School District and held various other teaching and administrative positions in California and Boston. His master’s and doctoral degrees are from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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For more information:
Louis Fox, vice provost, University of Washington’s Office of Educational Partnerships
(206) 685-4745, lfox@u.washington.edu

Rudy Crew
Thursday afternoon and Friday, call Fox’s office, (206) 685-4745
Crew is scheduled to return to New York Friday afternoon.