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Dawn Person, professor of educational leadership, left, meets with doctoral students Carol Mattson and Earic Peters in the College of Education’s new Center for Research on Educational Access and Leadership. Person is the center’s director. Photo by Kelly Lacefield

What Makes Education Effective?

New Center for Doctoral Research in Education Launched

January 20, 2009

By Debra Cano Ramos

Cal State Fullerton’s College of Education has launched a new research center to identify and respond to problems, issues and challenges facing local schools.

Through the new Center for Research on Educational Access and Leadership, doctoral candidates in the educational leadership program, the college’s master’s students, as well as faculty members, will be involved in research projects beginning this semester.

“The center will serve as a hub for the continued work of our college to identify and support endeavors that lead to increased opportunity for students, their families and our communities,” said Claire Cavallaro, dean of the College of Education, who announced the center's establishment and honored founding supporters last month.

To support its efforts, the center has received $42,500 in financial support from regional businesses and academic institutions, including Chevron Energy Solutions; Architecture, Construction and Engineering Academy, Long Beach Unified School District; and the Coast, North Orange County, Rancho Santiago and South Orange County community college districts.

In addition to working with regional schools — from preschools to community colleges — in Orange and Los Angeles counties, the center will produce papers, reports and publications to serve the local and national education community.

“The center will become a leading entity in the state for the dissemination of cutting-edge, solution-focused research that supports and guides effective educational practice,” Cavallaro explained.

“The emphasis will be on access, equity, diversity and leadership issues — real-world problems and challenges that affect our schools and communities,” said Dawn Person, who joined Cal State Fullerton in January 2008 to become coordinator of the doctorate program in community college leadership. Person’s research interests include retention issues of underrepresented students, multicultural issues and programs that support student success.

“The center will serve as a clearinghouse for educational research and as a resource for outside agencies,” Person said.

This spring, the center kicks off its first research project working with the Academy for Architecture, Construction and Engineering at Jordan High School in Long Beach. Research will center on how to make the new academy a sustainable program and regional model. A second project being planned with a corporate partner is to determine how students and teachers use technology in the classroom.

Executive and advisory boards, comprised mostly of local educators, faculty members and community partners, will be formed to help guide and lead the center’s goals and objectives.

Future center plans include holding an annual symposium for educational leaders to showcase completed research work, developing a Web site, offering professional activities and hosting visiting scholars.

The center will be self-supporting through grants, service contracts and memberships, and additional supporters are currently being sought, Person added.

For more information about the College of Education, visit its website. For additional information on the Center for Research on Educational Access and Leadership, contact Dawn Person at

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