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KNOXVILLE—Autumn K. Tooms, professor and director for the Center for Educational Leadership at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has received the 2011 William J. Davis award for outstanding research in educational administration.

Established more than thirty years ago, this is the most prestigious award for research in the field of educational administration and is bestowed annually to the author(s) of the most exemplary article published in Educational Administration Quarterly, the premier scholarly journal in the field.

Tooms led a three–member team of researchers to develop a conceptual theory called “Fit,” which identified the societal politics/dynamics embedded within the selection process of school administrators. An impartial board of scholars determined Tooms and her team as recipients through a blind review based on originality of research, impact on the field, and presentation of ideas.

“I have been working on this concept for over fifteen years,” Tooms said. “In the last five I was particularly fortunate to bring on board Ira Bogotch from Florida International University and Catherine Lugg from Rutgers. At its heart, Fit considers hegemony, identity, and the constructions of reality as influencing the hiring decisions of school leaders. Ultimately this means when someone says they have a gut feeling that a person is the right fit for the job, we can demonstrate the political dynamics of administrative selection are dependent on anything but a gut feeling.”

The award was presented to Tooms at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in New Orleans earlier this month.

“Fit” is the first conceptual theory to ever win the William J. Davis award. This is also the first time a scholar from UT has received the award.

Bob Rider, dean of the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, congratulated Tooms on the honor.

“One of my true joys is to witness the success of our faculty,” he said. “By virtue of this prestigious recognition, Dr. Tooms has further distinguished herself and our new Center for Educational Leadership. I congratulate Autumn on this award and her impressive work and thank her for the important visibility her notoriety brings to our educational leadership program and our college.”

The Center for Educational Leadership consists of several components, including the Leadership Academy, a collaborative venture between UT and the Knox County Schools that prepares individuals to become school principals through a full-time, intensive 15-month fellowship program.

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely, (865-974-5034,