Affiliated Researchers

Morgaen L. Donaldson Headshot

Morgaen L. Donaldson, CEPARE Director

Morgaen L. Donaldson is Associate Dean for Research, Philip E. Austin Endowed Chair, and professor at the University of Connecticut Neag School of Education, as well as Director of the Center for Education Policy Analysis. She is also a Research Affiliate of the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers at Harvard University. She received an Ed.D. and Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and an AB from Princeton University.

Dr. Donaldson began her career as a high school teacher in urban and semi-urban schools and was a founding faculty member of the Boston Arts Academy, Boston’s public high school for the arts. She also served as a Project Director in a Gates Foundation-funded effort to replicate the best practices of small schools successfully serving low-income and minority populations.

As a researcher, Dr. Donaldson has completed quantitative and qualitative studies on teacher quality, teacher retention, school leadership, and teachers’ unions. Her research has been recognized and funded by the Spencer Foundation, the American Association for University Women, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Dr. Donaldson’s recent publications include “Teachers Union Presidents Chart their Own Course,” in Peabody Journal of Education (2008); “Angling for access, bartering for change: How second-stage teachers experience differentiated roles in schools” in Teachers College Record (2008); and “Building a human resource system in the Boston Public Schools,” in Paul Reville (Ed.), A Decade of Boston School Reform (2007).

Milagros Castillo Montoya Headshot

Milagros Castillo-Montoya

Milagros Castillo-Montoya is a first-generation faculty member and currently an associate professor of higher education and student affairs in the Educational Leadership Department at the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. Dr. Castillo-Montoya primarily studies equitable teaching and learning in with particular attention to the learning of first-generation Black and Latine college students. She also focuses on policies and practices related to the hiring and retention of racially minoritized faculty. Dr. Castillo-Montoya has published in the Harvard Educational ReviewReview of Higher Education, Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, among other outlets. She began her career in higher education as a counselor for students in an educational opportunity program. She holds a B.A. and M.S.W. from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and an Ed.D. in Higher and Postsecondary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Sandy Headshot

Sandra M. Chafouleas

Dr. Sandra M. Chafouleas is a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor and Neag Endowed Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology within the Neag School of Education. She also serves as the founder and Co-Director of the UConn Collaboratory on School and Child Health (CSCH). Dr. Chafouleas received her Ph.D. in psychology (school) from Syracuse University and has been a licensed psychologist in Connecticut since 2001. Dr. Chafouleas focuses her work on supporting school system implementation of evidence-informed practices and expertise in areas of integrated health and learning (whole child), school mental health, and social, emotional, and behavioral assessment and intervention. As PI/Co-PI, she has secured over $20 million to support these research, service, and training activities. Dr. Chafouleas is co-creator of the award-winning Feel Your Best Self program, a free and fun toolkit that teaches 12 simple coping strategies to promote emotion regulation. She has authored over 200 publications, and regularly serves as a national presenter and invited speaker. She is a fellow in both the American Psychological Association and Association for Psychological Science, and has received multiple recognitions, including most recently a 2022 Presidential Citation from the American Psychological Association and selection as the 2023 Reed Fellow at the UConn Waterbury campus. She previously served as associate dean for The Graduate School (2012-2014) and then the associate dean for research in the Neag School (2014-2016). Prior to becoming a university trainer, she worked as a school psychologist and school administrator in a variety of settings supporting the needs of children with behavior disorders.

Casey Cobb Headshot

Casey D. Cobb

Casey D. Cobb is the Raymond Neag Professor of Educational Policy at the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. Dr. Cobb is a National Education Policy Center Fellow and a member of the Research Advisory Panel for the National Coalition on School Diversity. His current research interests include policies on school choice, accountability, and school reform, where he examines the implications for equity and educational opportunity. Dr. Cobb was named among the top 200 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influencers in 2023. Dr. Cobb is former Editor of Educational Administration Quarterly and a former two-term member of UCEA Executive Council. He is a co-author of Public and Private Education in America (ABC-CLIO, Praeger), Fundamentals of Statistical Reasoning in Education(Wiley/Jossey Bass, 4th ed.), and Leading Dynamic Schools(Corwin Press). Dr. Cobb is a former member of Connecticut’s Region 19 School Board. He holds an A.B. from Harvard University, an M.S. from the University of Maine, and a Ph.D. from Arizona State University.

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Alexandra Freidus

Alexandra Freidus is an educational ethnographer who focuses the roles that educators, families, and young people play in sustaining and interrupting racialized inequality in public schools. Her research examines how policymakers and constituents conceptualize student diversity, enact educational policy, and how these local contexts relate to teaching and learning.

Rachael Gabriel Headshot

Rachael Gabriel

Rachael Gabriel is an Associate Professor of Literacy Education at the University of Connecticut. She is the author or editor of several books for literacy teachers and education researchers and serves on the editorial boards of five major journals focused on literacy, education research and policy. Rachael’s career in education began as a middle school reading teacher in Washington, DC. Since then Rachael has worked as a literacy specialist, new teacher advisor and reading intervention provider. She earned a PhD in Literacy Studies from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and holds graduate certificates in both quantitative and qualitative research methods in education. Rachael is a former fellow of the Baker Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee and current associate of the Center for Education Policy Analysis (CEPA), and the Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability (CPED) at the University of Connecticut. Rachael’s research interests include: teacher development and evaluation, as well as literacy instruction, interventions, and related policies. Her current projects investigate supports for adolescent literacy, disciplinary literacy, and tools for teacher evaluation.

Richard Gonzalez Headshot

Richard Gonzales

Richard Gonzales is an Assistant Professor in Residence and the Director of Educational Leadership Preparation Programs at the Neag School of Education. He received his M.Ed. and Ph.D. in educational administration from The University of Texas at Austin.

Before entering higher education, Dr. Gonzales worked as an elementary bilingual teacher, an elementary principal, and a district-level administrator.  His research interests include leadership development, equity issues in education, urban education, and school improvement.

He currently serves as an instructor in the University of Connecticut Administrator Preparation Program (UCAPP) and coordinates the UCAPP Preparing Leaders for Urban Schools (PLUS) project, a collaboration between the Hartford Public Schools and the Neag School of Education.

Preston Green Headshot

Preston Green

Preston Green is the John and Carla Klein Professor of Urban Education at the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education. He is also a professor of educational leadership and law at the University of Connecticut.

Before coming to the University of Connecticut, he was the Harry Lawrence Batschelet II Chair Professor of Educational Administration at Penn State, where he was also a professor of education and law and the program coordinator of Penn State’s educational leadership program. In addition, Dr. Green was the creator of Penn State’s joint degree program in law and education. Further, he ran the Law and Education Institute at Penn State, a professional development program that teaches, administrators, and attorneys about educational law. At the University of Massachusetts, Dr. Green was an associate professor of education. He also served as the program coordinator of educational administration and Assistant Dean of Pre-Major Advising Services. Dr. Green has written four books and numerous articles and book chapters pertaining to educational law. He primarily focuses on the legal and policy issues pertaining to educational access and school choice.

Jason Irizarry Headshot

Jason Irizarry

Jason Irizarry is dean and professor of the Neag School of Education. He is also a faculty associate in El Instituto: Institute for Latina/a, Caribbean and Latin American Studies. He has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in multicultural education, culturally responsive curriculum development, participatory action research, and urban education. A central focus of his work involves promoting the academic achievement of youth in urban schools by addressing issues associated with educator preparation. His first book, The Latinization of U.S. Schools: Successful Teaching and Learning in Shifting Cultural Contexts, was awarded the Phillip C. Chin Book Award from the National Association for Multicultural Education. He is also the co-editor of Diaspora Studies in Education: Toward a Framework for Understanding the Experiences of Transnational Communities. Irizarry has an Ed.D. from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Alex J. Lamb Headshot

Alexandra J. Lamb

Alexandra J. Lamb (Alex) is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Connecticut in the department of Educational Leadership and a former educator, leader, and technology integrator in K-12 schools. Her research uses organizational and institutional lenses to understand how schools and districts create the conditions for educational change. Specifically, she examines how educational leaders create conditions for change that support deeper learning, more equitable schooling, and better student outcomes. In her recent work, she examines the influence of educational technology programs on changing district practices, the role of teacher leadership initiatives in district improvement, and plans for district change funded by ARP-ESSER. She has published in the Journal of Educational Administration, Journal of Educational Change, IJEMST, and the Middle Grades Review. 

D. Betsy McCoach Headshot

D. Betsy McCoach

D. Betsy McCoach is a professor in the Measurement, Evaluation and Assessment program at the University of Connecticut. She has extensive experience in longitudinal data analysis, hierarchical linear modeling, instrument design, factor analysis, and structural equation modeling. Betsy has published over 100 journal articles, books, and book chapters, and she co-edited a volume Multilevel Modeling of Educational Data with Ann O'Connell. Betsy serves as a Co-Principal Investigator and research methodologist on several federally funded research grants, including the IES funded National Center for Research on Gifted Education. Betsy is the current Director of the DATIC, where she teaches summer workshops in Hierarchical Linear Modeling, Longitudinal Analysis, and Structural Equation Modeling, and she is the founder and conference chair of the Modern Modeling Methods conference, held at UCONN every May.

Chris Rhoades Headshot

Chris Rhoads

Chris Rhoads received his Ph.D. in Statistics from Northwestern University in 2008, where his dissertation research focused on developing methods for improving the statistical power of cluster randomized experiments. His research interests focus on methods for improving causal inference in educational research, particularly in the areas of experimental design and the analysis of multi-level data structures.

Dr. Rhoads is currently involved in multiple studies in education and the social sciences including studies of: (i) math professional development in the elementary grades, (ii) statistical literacy in the middle school grades, (iii) persistence in higher education among non-traditional students, (iv) the impact of grade level acceleration on the future achievement of gifted students and (v) the downstream effects of an innovative supportive housing program on families involved with the social welfare system.

His methodological work includes: Exploring the implications of “contamination” of experimental interventions for the design and analysis of experiments with clustering; using prior information about the correlation structure to improve power and precision in experiments with clustering; determining optimal experimental designs for regression discontinuity studies and exploring models for mediation and moderation in regression discontinuity studies. 

Richard Schwab Headshot

Richard L. Schwab

Richard L. Schwab is the Raymond E. Neag Endowed Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Connecticut. Previously he served as Dean of the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut from 1997 to 2009 and 2014-2016, Dean of the School of Education at Drake University from 1992-1997, Department Head of Educational Leadership at Drake from 1990 to 1992, and Professor and Director of Field Experiences at the University of New Hampshire from 1980 to 1990. He is the past president of the Council of Academic Deans at Research Education Institutions (CADREI), a national organization for research oriented private and land grant schools/colleges of education. He has also served as president of the Northeastern Educational Research Association and is active in the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE) In April of 2001, Dr. Schwab was appointed to the National Commission for Teaching and America’s Future and continues to serve as commissioner and was appointed to the Board of Directors in 2009. He has also served on several other state and national commissions on issues relating to superintendent preparation, educational technology, and teacher education reform. Dr. Schwab has published extensively on issues relating to teacher education, occupational stress and health in educational organizations, and educational technology. His most recent book on the teacher education, portrait of a Profession:Teaching and Teachers in the 21st Century was published by Praeger Press (2005). In 2009 he received the Margaret Lindsey Award from AACTE for distinguished research in the field of teacher education. Dr. Schwab was a co-founder of the Journal of Personnel Evaluation and served as Associate Editor for 10 years. He has been on the editorial board for the Journal of Teacher Education.

John Settlage Headshot

John Settlage

John Settlage is a Professor in the Neag School of Education with primary teaching and advising responsibilities with the STEM Teacher Education program at the Avery Point campus. His PhD at University of Missouri was followed by academic and research positions in Boston, Cleveland, Salt Lake City...and now Connecticut.

Provoked by Connecticut's sizable science achievement disparities, Dr. Settlage has assembled a research team and acquired substantial support from the National Science Foundation. In addition to faculty and graduate students across all Neag departments, this project operates in close collaboration with researchers at the University of Central Florida. By investigating elementary school social infrastructure, Project SOSA (School Organization and Science Achievement) seeks to uncover explanations for wide variation in performance on the annual Grade 5 science test.

Findings from this work are published in science education journals and presented at international conferences on school effectiveness. Follow-up funding is being sought to translate this research into collaborative improvements in association with city school districts and their science leaders.

Robert Villanova Headshot

Robert M. Villanova

Robert M. Villanova is the former director of the Neag School's Executive Leadership Program. This program is designed to prepare school district leaders for the current challenges of educational leadership. Bob served on the faculty for this program for twelve years, teaching courses related to systemic leadership for district improvement, human resource development, school district operations, and the application of district leadership “best practice” through the superintendent internship. He also taught in the Department of Educational Leadership’s Ed.D Program. Dr. Villanova was appointed in March 2013 as the Director of LEAD Connecticut. LEAD Connecticut represents an unprecedented collaboration among state and national organizations with deep expertise in leadership and leadership development in partnership with the Connecticut State Department of Education. Dr. Villanova serves as a district leadership consultant for the CT Center for School Change. He was a charter member of the Center’s Superintendents’ Network and now works as a facilitator/consultant in support of the Superintendents’ Network and other Center leadership development initiatives. From 1993 through January 2009 Bob served as superintendent of the Farmington, Connecticut Public Schools. During Bob’s tenure as superintendent the district consistently performed in the top 5 to 10% of CT school districts on state and national performance measures. Each of the seven Farmington schools was recognized as an exemplary school through various state and national programs during this period. Dr. Villanova was honored s the Connecticut Association of School Superintendents’ Superintendent of the Year in 2008.

Dr. Villanova continues to be involved in numerous leadership development initiatives including organizing and presenting Advanced Leadership Development Seminars for Superintendents in Connecticut and Rhode Island, supporting the professional development partnership between the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents and the Neag School of Education, providing leadership development institutes for district leadership teams, organizing and facilitating Instructional Rounds in school districts, completing special assignments for the Commissioner of Education related to board governance and district leadership and working as an executive coach with early career superintendents.

Jennie M. Weiner Headshot

Jennie M. Weiner

Dr. Jennie Miles Weiner is an associate professor of educational leadership at the University of Connecticut. She is affiliated with UConn’s Center for Education Policy Analysis, Research and Evaluation and servs as the codirector of the school’s EdD program. Her scholarship focuses on issues of educational leadership and organizational change, including teacher leadership and capacity building the impact of gender and racial discrimination in educational leadership. She has recently appeared as an expert on issues of women, leadership, and care work for a variety of events and on media outlets, such as Good Morning America and NPR, as well as on a variety of podcasts and is the co-author of the new book Education Lead(her)ship: Advancing Women in K-12 Administration with Dr. Monica Higgins. She is also the co-author of The Strategy Playbook for Education Leaders with Dr. Isobel Stevenson. See  for more information. 

Jennie M. Weiner Headshot

Suzanne M. Wilson

Dr. Suzanne M. Wilson is a Neag Endowed Professor of Teacher Education at the University of Connecticut where she currently serves as Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Her undergraduate degree is in history and American Studies from Brown University; she also has a M.S. in Statistics and a Ph.D. in Psychological Studies in Education from Stanford University. She was a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University, where she served on the faculty for 26 years. Wilson also served as the first director of the Teacher Assessment Project (PI, Lee Shulman), which developed prototype assessments for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Dr. Wilson is a committed teacher, having taught undergraduate, MA, and doctoral classes in educational policy, teacher learning, and research methods. Wilson serves on multiple editorial and advisory boards; she is also a member of the National Academy of Education and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Wilson has written extensively on teacher knowledge, curriculum reform, educational policy, and teacher learning. She has published in American Educator, American Educational Research Journal, Educational Researcher, Elementary School Journal, Journal of Teacher Education, Phi Delta Kappan, and Teaching Education. She is author of California Dreaming: Reforming Mathematics Education (Yale, 2003), and editor of Lee Shulman’s collection of essays, Wisdom of practice: Essays on teaching, learning, and learning to teach (Jossey-Bass, 2004). She is currently working on a book of essays entitled Why Teach?