Texas Tech University

Texas Tech Named Site for National Education Policy Fellowship Program

Amanda Castro-Crist

December 21, 2018

College of Education

The program is a national initiative of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Educational Leadership.

A prestigious national fellowship program that focuses on education policy is setting up shop at Texas Tech University, marking the latest way Texas Tech is leading in the world of policymaking.

The Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP), a national initiative of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Educational Leadership, has partnered with Texas Tech to make the university its state-based site in Texas. EPFP is a professional development initiative that strengthens policymaking in partnership with multiple state site programs across the U.S. With the addition of Texas Tech, it will grow to 18 sites across 17 states and the District of Columbia.

The Texas site will be coordinated by faculty members in the Texas Tech College of Education. Applications for the fall 2019-20 cohort are now open online at the national EPFP website.

"The Institute for Educational Leadership is pleased to welcome Texas to its 55-year-old national Education Policy Fellowship Program," said Helen Malone, national director of EPFP. "Texas EPFP will provide a transformative experience for diverse leaders both in and for education in the Texas Tech community and beyond, and it will continue to advance our mission to develop a diverse and collaborative community of strategic leaders for effective public policy."

Texas Tech will be the first site for the program in Texas in decades. The previous state site of the program was The University of Texas at Austin from 1981 to 1985.

Rebecca Hite, an assistant professor in the College of Education and a North Carolina EPFP alumna, is directing the Texas EPFP site.

"This is part of Texas Tech being a leader in education policy," she said. "Policymaking isn't only happening in Austin. All of Texas is making a difference in education. We have a lot to offer out here in West Texas, and we're glad to have this unique opportunity to make an impact on education through policy, all across our state."

Three pillars

The 10-month program offers professional development for emerging and mid-level leaders in education and education-related fields.

EPFP focuses on three pillars – policy, leadership and networking. Fellows receive opportunities to advance their working knowledge of state and federal policy, tailored leadership training and avenues to demonstrate their leadership, and access to an alumni network stretching across the U.S.

"Our role is to assist leaders who may need a little bit more in the way of knowledge, skills and contacts so they can move to the next level as agents of change in their communities," Hite said. "This program provides the boost they need to advance their careers as leaders in educational policy and make the greater difference or impact they desire."

EPFP boasts 9,000 alumni in all 50 states, including state legislators, university presidents, school superintendents, state teachers of the year and leaders of nonprofits and foundations.

Regular meetings of fellows form the core of the program, including monthly online meetings, a leadership retreat and a four-day policy seminar in Washington, D.C., where fellows from all EPFP sites gather. A summer graduation event is planned for Lubbock.

The program's curriculum will be informed by a non-partisan advisory council that represents stakeholders from education sectors and nonprofit and business communities from around the state. It will help ensure the program is addressing issues relevant to the diverse landscape of education and covers the vast geography of Texas, Hite said.

"It doesn't matter if you're in El Paso, or you're in Paris, Texas – we're here to serve you and we're here to listen to your issues," Hite said.

A 'renewed focus'

The establishment of the Texas EPFP site complements another new educational policy-related offering at Texas Tech.

In the fall, the College of Education admitted the first cohort of a new doctorate degree in educational leadership policy. The fully online degree program is designed to help students become critically engaged policymakers and produces graduates prepared for leadership positions in places like school districts, universities, government agencies, nonprofits and policy think tanks.

"The College of Education is committed to community-engaged scholarship and using our resources to contribute to the well-being of communities and individuals," said Robin Lock, interim dean of the College of Education. "Our renewed focus on education policy, and our partnership with EPFP, is a part of that. We're excited about helping empower emerging leaders from all over the state to work together and improve their educational communities."