UW-Madison selects Underwood as School of Education dean

May 27, 2005

Julie K. Underwood, associate executive director and general counsel for the National School Boards Association, has been named the new dean of the School of Education, Chancellor John D. Wiley announced today.

"Julie has an exceptional grasp of educational issues and is a talented, committed and enthusiastic leader," Wiley says. "She is a great fit for us in terms of advancing the cause of teacher education and promoting our research mission in the best tradition of the Wisconsin Idea."

A former UW-Madison faculty member, Underwood has worked for the NSBA since 1998.

As a member of the group's senior management team, she is responsible for a legal advocacy program on behalf of the nation's public school boards, including producing friend-of-the-court briefs and legal strategies before the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts. She is also responsible for the 3,000-member Council of School Attorneys.

"This is a school with a state mission and a national profile," Underwood says. "This is a fine opportunity to lead a School of Education with an excellent faculty and staff. They are known nationally for their dedication, and the school has a long history as a leader in education."

Underwood's NSBA experience provides her with a strong background in teacher education and education school and school policy issues.

"My background shows that I have a national perspective and national contacts in educational policy and have worked extensively with educational groups, policymakers and other universities on issues affecting education," Underwood says.

Prior to joining NSBA, Underwood served as dean of the School of Education & Allied Professions at Miami University. There, she was responsible for the operations of a school with more than 100 faculty members and 2,300 students.

From 1986 to 1995, Underwood was a UW-Madison faculty member teaching school law.

Her experience on the Madison campus was wide-ranging. Underwood was a professor of educational administration; co-director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Policy from 1990-93 at what was then the Robert M. La Follette Institute of Public Affairs; chair of the Department of Education Administration from 1993-94; and associate dean of the education school from 1994-95.

At Wisconsin, she will lead one of the most highly regarded schools of education in the nation. The school's eight academic departments enroll more than 2,300 undergraduate and 1,000 graduate students each year in a diverse range of programs, which include teacher preparation, art, dance, occupational therapy, rehabilitation psychology, exercise science and athletic training.

The school's research mission is also recognized nationally, with the school's Wisconsin Center for Educational Research - one of the nation's oldest and largest education research centers - currently encompassing nearly $25 million a year in research projects.

Underwood says the school's multiple missions attracted her.

"It is a School of Education with a uniquely diverse mission," she says. "I'm looking forward to the challenge of taking all of those missions and making sure they are treated with respect."

She has a long family history of involvement in education: her father was a school superintendent, her mother was a special education director, a daughter is majoring in teacher education, her sister is an assistant superintendent, and both of her grandfathers were school board members.

Underwood is co-author of several books, including "School Law for Teachers," "Legal Aspects of Special Education and Pupil Services" and "The Principal's Legal Handbook."

She holds a bachelor's degree in political science and sociology from DePauw University, a law degree from Indiana University and a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Florida.

Underwood will succeed W. Charles Read, who plans to retire this summer after a 35-year career at UW-Madison, including spending the last 10 years as dean of the School of Education.

Underwood's salary will be $201,000, and she is expected to begin work on campus in early August.