With funds donated by two alumni and a commitment of support from University leaders, the University of Delaware is launching the UD Partnership for Public Education. The new partnership is a multidisciplinary effort to mobilize the University’s research, educational and public service capacities to provide sustained assistance to Delaware schools with low-income and other at-risk students, focusing initially on schools in the city of Wilmington.
UD faculty and professionals will support improvements in instruction through professional development programs for teachers and school leaders and on-site collaboration on school improvement strategies that reflect national best practices.
Two long-time friends and Blue Hen classmates have joined forces to establish a new Fund for Urban Educationthat will provide strategic and integrated support for the partnership. The $100,000 gift is an initiative of Quinetta Roberson, professor of management and the Fred J. Springer Chair in Business Leadership at the Villanova School of Business, and Tony Allen, a UD trustee, who leads the corporate reputation group for Bank of America, and who serves as the chair of the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission.
“Almost 30 years ago, Q and I came to UD with the support of many in our family and communities. More than a few people believed in us, demanded the very best from us and supported us every step of the way. We want the same for today’s generation,” Allen said.
“In recent years, we have watched UD embrace its role in K-12 public education reform in Delaware and facilitating diversity and inclusion on-campus. Our gift is meant to support this work and encourage our beloved alma mater to do even more,” he said.
Roberson noted, “We have been a part of a strong, vibrant Black Alumni Organization that has kept many of us connected to UD. We are now calling on others in our alumni community to support this work and/or give to the University around the issues that matter to them most.”
“The University of Delaware is thankful to Drs. Roberson and Allen for making this critical commitment to extend the University’s role in strengthening Delaware public education, and specifically to focus on assistance to schools with large numbers of low-income students, English language learners and students,” said Acting President Nancy Targett. ”The UD Partnership for Public Education will build on the University’s ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion.”
An active partner
The University of Delaware has been an active partner in the earlier work of the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee (WEAC), leading to the final report, Strengthening Wilmington Education: An Action Agenda, presented to Delaware Gov. Jack Markell and the Delaware General Assembly last spring. That report was the basis for creating the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission (WEIC), supported by the work of UD’s Institute for Public Administration.
The UD Partnership for Public Education will strengthen the support UD is now providing to the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, which is focused on strengthening pre-K-12 education in Wilmington and New Castle County. Information on this groundbreaking work on Wilmington education is available at www.solutionsfordelawareschools.com.
“The UD Partnership for Public Education,” UD Provost Domenico Grasso said, “is in perfect alignment with the University’s newly launched Community Engagement Initiative and will directly improve the quality of life in our state and strengthening Delaware’s public education system — key goals that affect us all.”
Drawing upon UD’s strengths
This important work will draw upon the University’s strengths as a research institution by engaging faculty and professionals from many disciplines, many of whom are already engaged in assisting affected by the recommendations of the WEIC. “The new partnership,” said Carol Vukelich, interim dean of the College of Education and Human Development, “will mobilize programs in four key areas that draw upon the University’s strengths: research and evaluation, professional development, school improvement strategies and models, and engagement and advocacy.”
Improving success for low-income students requires a comprehensive developmental approach that draws upon knowledge from many fields and focuses on the alignment of needed supports and services starting in early childhood and extending through entry into a career or higher education, and drawing upon a strong partnership between the community and the schools.
“Many UD faculty, professionals and students are already engaged in support of this effort,” Vukelich said, “and the UD Partnership for Public Education will provide additional support for their contributions as well as mobilize contributions from other parts of the UD community.”
George Watson, dean of UD’s College of Arts and Sciences, and Vukelich will co-chair the University-wide steering committee for the UD Partnership for Public Education.
”The mission of the partnership,” said Watson, “is to marshal and coordinate University capacity and expertise in direct collaboration with public schools and with partner organizations such as the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission.”
About the Donors
Quinetta Roberson is the Fred J. Springer Endowed Chair of Business Leadership at Villanova University. One of the world’s foremost authorities in organizational behavior specializing in leadership, talent management and diversity, she has published over 20 articles and book chapters, and edited a Handbook of Diversity in the Workplace, published by Oxford Press in 2013.
Roberson has been a visiting professor at several international universities, including Bocconi University in Milan, Italy; Melbourne Business School in Melbourne, Australia; and FGV-EAESP in São Paulo, Brazil. She also served a one-year appointment as a program director at the National Science Foundation. Before joining Villanova University, she was a tenured associate professor at Cornell University.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in finance from UD in 1992 and serves on the Lerner School of Business and Economics Advisory Council.
Tony Allen is the managing director of the corporate reputation group at Bank of America, responsible for developing and monitoring programming to influential external audiences. He is a key adviser to the bank’s public policy and corporate social responsibility teams and also chairs the Global Marketing and Corporate Affairs Diversity & Inclusion Council for the company.
Active in civic affairs throughout the country, Allen is the chairman of the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission (WEIC), created by Delaware’s governor and General Assembly to strengthen public education for students throughout the state. He is also the co-founder or Public Allies-Delaware, a now 20-year old leadership development organization for young adults interested in public service and chairman emeritus of the National Urban Fellows, the oldest academic fellowship for mid-career professionals of color in the country.
Allen also has written extensively in many periodicals and publications including the annual journal, The State of Black America, and the syndicated column To Be Equal. He ia a Whitney M. Young awardee for Advancing Racial Equality, the National Urban League’s highest honor and in 2012 was named Delaware Citizen of the Year. He has received many other honors throughout his career.
Allen received his bachelor’s degree in political science and his doctorate in urban affairs and public policy in 1992 and 2001, respectively. He is a member of the University’s Board of Trustees.
In 2013, Roberson and Allen co-founded Brooks Whitney, a management consulting firm. Roberson serves as chief executive officer and Allen is chairman.