UNC Names Executive Director of Education Innovation Institute

The University of Northern Colorado has selected a faculty scholar experienced in conducting education policy research and analysis to lead its Education Innovation Institute, established by the state legislature to provide evidence-based resources for solving practical problems in education reform.

Kristin Klopfenstein, Ph.D., most recently served as interim director at the University of Texas at Dallas, Texas Schools Project, a clearinghouse for the state's administrative education data used to conduct research and evaluation projects. She served for more than 10 years as faculty in the Economics department at Texas Christian University. In recent years, she also taught and supervised dissertations in the Education Leadership program at TCU's College of Education.

At the UNC institute, Klopfenstein will oversee development of the organization, including setting and promoting the agenda; identifying, recruiting and coordinating the work of researchers from within and outside UNC; building alliances with government officials and educators; and fund-raising and grant writing.

"The institute will help fulfill our historic mission in education," said UNC President Kay Norton. "Dr. Klopfenstein possesses a strong vision for the institute. Under her leadership, the institute will fill an unmet need in an area where billions of well-intentioned dollars are invested nationally each year with disappointing outcomes."

In connecting new and existing applied research on select relevant topics, the institute ultimately will offer policymakers and educators an unbiased resource for data and analysis to make meaningful and sustainable improvements in the education system.

"Policymakers and funders, along with superintendents, principals, and teachers, are in need of the best information available to make the hard choices among available approaches," Klopfenstein said. "I look forward to extensive conversations with President Norton and other stakeholders to determine the best way to maximize the institute's impact."

Klopfenstein's extensive research examines factors that influence low income, rural, black, and Hispanic students' preparation for college and successful workforce transitions; and the Advanced Placement Program, from participation, testing and graduation outcomes, to its link to early success in college. She's a sought-after expert, having been interviewed for stories published by the New York Times, Washington Post, Dallas Morning News, USA Today and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Klopfenstein has worked on grants from the U.S. Department of Education, National Science Foundation, and the Spencer Foundation, and most recently as an evaluator in a multi-year public-private effort to reform Texas public high schools.

As a faculty member for 13 years, Klopfenstein taught statistics and a variety of economics courses. She earned a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Colorado and graduated cum laude with a bachelor's degree in International Affairs from The George Washington University.

The institute was created by the state legislature in 2009. With no state funding currently available for the institute, UNC has secured more than $1 million dollars in initial funding, mostly from private donations and federal grant funding."

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