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 Tuesday, January 22, 2008 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


Faculty Focus
Inside CU's faculty profile series
Faculty Focus

Our faculty are a source of great pride and bring a world of expertise, experimentation and excellence to our students and our community. Meet Kevin G. Welner, an associate professor at the School of Education, specializing in educational policy, law and program evaluation.

Kevin is also director of the Education and the Public Interest Center (EPIC). His present research examines small school reforms, tuition tax credit voucher policies, and various issues concerning the intersection between education rights litigation and educational opportunity scholarship. Welner earned both his J.D. and Ph.D from UCLA. He has received the Early Career Award (in 2006) and Palmer O. Johnson Award (best article in 2004) from the American Educational Research Association, as well as the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Residency, and the Post-Doctoral Fellowship awarded by the National Academy of Education and the Spencer Foundation.

What drew you to your field of expertise, and keeps you passionate about your work?

I decided to study education policy because, simply put, schools matter. I had practiced law for four or five years but never felt a passion for it. In contrast, the area of educational scholarship that I've pursued – the intersection between law and school equity – is particularly meaningful. There's a century-old quote from the philosopher John Dewey that captures my conception of educational rights: "What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all its children." Too often, our educational policies result in granting disproportionate advantages to the already advantaged; my passion is to help build an understanding of what schools can and should do to help the less advantaged.

What do you most enjoy and what is the most challenging aspect of your profession?

My job is one of constant learning, which is both a joy and a challenge. I also very much enjoy working with my colleagues and our graduate students. During the past few years, the EPIC policy center has grown by leaps and bounds, and we now have a network of a hundred top-notch scholars (our "fellows") scattered across the country, who work with us on policy briefs and other endeavors. Our "Think Tank Review Project," which is now entering its third year, has also gained a remarkable following and has produced work that I'm very proud of. The process of building and maintaining such projects is an enormous challenge.

Also challenging and fulfilling was an "Education Policy and the Law" class I taught a little over a year ago. I got a book contract from an academic commercial publisher (Information Age Publishing), where the chapters were to be written by students in the course. That book, Current Issues in Education Policy and the Law, which I co-edited with doctoral student Wendy Chi, will be published this month. Wendy and the student-authors deserve enormous credit for their perseverance and commitment to producing such a high-quality book.

What are your favorite interests and activities apart from your work?
As we used to say in the law biz, "Objection: assumes facts not in evidence" (time apart from work). I do spend a lot of time on my work, mostly because I love what I do. But I also live up in the foothills and very much enjoy the Colorado outdoors. Before, when I lived in California, I was an avid scuba diver and underwater photographer, and I still get away sometimes for submersion purposes. I'm also expecting my first child in February, and I'm told by some that this may place a few demands on my time and may even result in new favorite interests and activities.

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