Highlands education dean named to national leadership fellowship


Virginia Padilla-Vigil

LAS VEGAS, NM  – The dean of Highlands University’s School of Education will join 12 colleagues from across the country as an Impact Academy fellow, chosen for their commitment to improving educator preparation.

“Deans of education are facing complex challenges,” said Dean Virginia Padilla-Vigil. “Through the Impact Academy fellowship, I will become part of a network of deans who are committed to sharing and developing leadership skills that will allow us to tackle these challenges collaboratively and expand our collective impact in transforming teacher education.”

Many colleges report declining interest among faculty in administrative positions even as the role of dean grows more complex and important. In order for educator preparation to improve, the field needs leaders who can set a bold vision for improvement, motivate faculty, and support individual and organizational learning. Deans for Impact aims to fill this need through its year-long Impact Academy fellowship, which empowers a new generation of transformative leaders with skills, knowledge, and strategies to help solve the complicated problems they’re facing.

“We are fortunate to have DeanPadilla-Vigil represent Highlands University and New Mexico in this important work,” said Highlands Provost Roxanne Gonzales.

Padilla-Vigil is part of the fellowship’s third cohort since its launch in summer 2016. Each cohort of Impact Academy fellows is limited to no more than 20 leaders who each went through a rigorous nomination and application process.

“We believe that transformative leadership is the cornerstone of an educator-preparation program that embraces an improvement mentality and prioritizes candidate learning above all else,” said Benjamin Riley, founder and executive director of Deans for Impact. “We’re thrilled to welcome 13 such leaders into the Impact Academy fellowship and are excited to nurture and support these leaders as they embark on efforts to improve their own educator-preparation programs and the field more broadly.”

The Impact Academy fellowship combines intensive in-person sessions with ongoing support, mentoring, and individual learning. Fellows will kick off the year with a rigorous four-day academy in July 2018 then extend their learning over the course of the fellowship through individual modules and ongoing leadership coaching from Deans for Impact member deans.

Riley said Deans for Impact is committed to reflecting the broad diversity of programs preparing new educators in this country, and today’s announcement reinforces that commitment. This cohort’s fellows collectively lead programs that enroll more than 3,500 teacher-candidates in 11 states. Eight fellows lead programs at public institutions, three fellows come from private institutions, and two fellows lead programs that are non-traditional pathways into teaching. Two fellows come from minority-serving institutions.