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KNOXVILLE — Kent State Professor Autumn Tooms, who previously worked as a teacher and as a school administrator at the elementary, middle and high school levels, has been named director of the Center for Educational Leadership at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Tooms also will be a professor in UT’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. She begins on Aug. 1.

Established with a private gift, the Center for Educational Leadership is a collaborative venture between the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in UT’s College of Education, Health and Human Sciences and Knox County Schools. The center’s components include: The Leadership Academy, a principal training program; The Educational Leadership Institute, a summer institute for school leaders; The Executive Leadership Institute, a summer institute for district-level leaders; The Leadership Resource Center, providing a variety of professional development opportunities; and job-embedded support for current principals.

Tooms’ research has centered on the politics of school leadership and school reform with an emphasis on the role of the principal. Her international work has centered on building collaborative relationships between universities to prepare leaders in the Bahamas and the study of how globalization and economic policies affect the day-to-day leadership decisions of principals in both the United Kingdom and in the United States.

Her primary area of interest is centered on building bridges between schools, those who lead schools and those who prepare aspiring leaders.

“We’re pleased to introduce Autumn Tooms as the center’s director at the same time our first group aspiring principals is beginning to study at The Leadership Academy,” said Vincent Anfara, chair of the college’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, which will oversee the Center for Educational Leadership. The Leadership Academy begins classes on Thursday.

“Tooms’ core belief in improving schools through bridge leadership is what drives her commitment to serving the Center for Educational Leadership, the UT Knoxville community and educational delivery systems throughout the state of Tennessee,” Anfara said.

Tooms began her career in education as a biology teacher, with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Arizona State University (ASU). After earning a master’s degree in educational administration from Northern Arizona University, Tooms returned to ASU to earn a doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies in 1996.

Her research has been published in research journals, and she has co-authored a number of books, including “The Principal’s Essential Guide to Literacy in the Elementary School,” (Scholastic, 2007) and “Bridge Leadership: Connecting Educational Leadership and Social Justice to Improve Schools” (Information Age Publishing Inc., 2009).

Tooms is president-elect of the University Council for Educational Administration, the premier research organization in the field of educational leadership.

Her work has been recognized nationally by The National Association of Elementary School Principals and The University Council for Educational Administration. As a principal and teacher in Phoenix, Ariz., she was honored by The Flynn Foundation and the Phoenix mayor’s office.

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,