December 11, 2019

Wayne State University College of Education to host second annual Distinguished Lecture in Urban Education

DETROIT — The Wayne State University College of Education invites the community to explore issues related to the role of philanthropy in urban education reform during its second annual  Distinguished Lecture in Urban Education on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. The program will be held in the Spencer M. Partrich Auditorium of the Wayne State Law School, located at 471 W. Palmer in Detroit.

Na’ilah Suad Nasir, president of the Spencer Foundation, will discuss the impact funders can have on urban education during her presentation, “Philanthropy, Equity, and Education Research.” The foundation’s sixth president, Nasir held a faculty appointment at the University of California, Berkeley, where she also served as vice chancellor of equity and inclusion. She earned her doctorate in educational psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and was a member of the faculty in the School of Education at Stanford University. Her work focuses on issues of race, culture, learning and identity. The author of Racialized Identities: Race and Achievement for African-American Youth and numerous scholarly articles, Nasir is a member of the National Academy of Education and a fellow of the American Educational Research Association.

Local leaders in education and philanthropy will discuss priorities, projects and partnerships in urban education. Panelists include Pamela G. Alexander, director of community development for the Ford Motor Company Fund; Wanda Cook-Robinson, superintendent of Oakland Schools; Nate McCaughtry, professor and assistant dean in the Wayne State University College of Education; and Punita Dani Thurman, vice president of program and strategy for The Skillman Foundation.

“Philanthropic organizations have been long-time supporters of educational programming,” said William Hill, assistant dean of the Division of Administrative and Organizational Services and co-director of the Kaplan Center for Research on Urban Education. “More recently, they have begun developing their own initiatives and partnerships aimed at addressing challenges facing school districts, particularly those in which the majority of students are from underrepresented backgrounds. Foundations and other organizations are also more involved in crafting policies and practices. We felt like it was time to have a discussion about the impact and implications of their increased involvement in urban education reform.”

“Our goal is to explore how philanthropy is affecting the educational landscape,” said Roland Sintos Coloma, assistant dean of the Division of Teacher Education and co-director of the Kaplan Center. “In many cases, support from foundations and other donors is replacing funding from local and federal government, and this influences the education students receive in metro Detroit and in cities across the U.S. Because of our urban mission, Wayne State is in a great position to present a lecture and panel discussion like this. We hope aspiring educators, K-12 educators and administrators, elected officials, parents, alumni, and anyone in the community with a vested interest in education will join us for this dialogue.”

The event was made possible in part by funding from the College of Education, Kaplan Center for Research on Urban Education, Metropolitan Detroit Bureau of School Studies Inc., and the June G. Yackness and Irvin H. Yackness Endowed Lectureship Series.

Registration and a reception will begin at 5 p.m. The lecture and panel discussion will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public; however, registration is required. Guests are asked to reserve their space online at Free parking is available in Structure 1.

For more information, contact Sarah Schrag at 313-577-0904 or

About the June G. Yackness and Irvin H. Yackness Endowed Lectureship Series

The Dr. June G. Yackness and Irvin H. Yackness Endowed Lectureship Series was created in 2015 in honor of June G. Yackness — a College of Education alumna and an adjunct professor in its Division of Theoretical and Behavioral Foundations — by her husband Irvin H. Yackness. Proceeds from the fund support a visiting lectureship within the Wayne State University College of Education on an annual basis.

About the Leonard Kaplan Center for Research on Urban Education

The mission of the Kaplan Center for Research on Urban Education is to advance, support, disseminate and apply research that promotes equity, social justice, opportunity and transformation in urban education. The center also serves as a catalyst for professional development and evaluation related to issues in urban education including, educational policy and leadership, curriculum and instruction, teacher education and educational technology. For more information, visit

About the College of Education

For more than a century, the Wayne State University College of Education has prepared effective urban educators who are reflective, innovative and committed to diversity. The college offers

undergraduate and graduate degrees in more than 30 program areas, including art therapy, bilingual/bicultural education, community health, counseling, educational evaluation and research, educational leadership and policy studies, educational psychology, elementary education, exercise and sport science, learning design and technology, special education and sports administration. To learn more, visit   

About Wayne State University 

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering nearly 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 27,000 students. For more information, visit


Tracy Boyce
Phone: 313-577-0260

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