Assistant Professor Terry Flennaugh has been working to advance urban programs at the Michigan State University College of Education since he became the college’s coordinator of urban initiatives in spring 2015.
The newly created position has helped Flennaugh better understand the relationships of urban partners on various projects, and how effective and important those projects are to the university.
“MSU has a commitment to taking on issues of diversity, inclusion and urban education, and the College of Education is a major part of that,” Flennaugh said. “That is part of how the college leads, through this work. No one questions the fact that the U.S. is becoming an increasingly diverse country where issues of work, race, class, citizenship and language remain critically important issues to better understand. A lot of work remains to be done to ensure that everyone has an equitable opportunity to receive a high-quality education, especially in urban communities that have been and continue to be marginalized.
“Along with the faculty in the college who do important work in this area, the urban education programs in the college seek to improve MSU’s visibility as an institution working toward educational equity.”
Flennaugh’s main priorities include overseeing the Urban Education Speaker Series, and advancing and leading the evaluation of all pipeline programs. The pipeline at MSU includes pre-college, undergraduate and graduate programs that are meant to help develop interest in and commitment to teaching in high-need and urban areas. Flennaugh pays particular attention to how effective the college is with recruiting, maintaining and graduating students through the programs.
Flennaugh, whose research centers around race, culture and equity in education, was chosen for the position by Sonya Gunnings-Moton, assistant dean for student support services and recruitment. She had worked with Flennaugh previously through the Summer High School Scholars Program and the Urban Educators Cohort Program, two of the programs in the pipeline.
“His prior knowledge and experiences have been tremendously helpful in designing impactful program delivery,” said Gunnings-Moton, who collaborated with then-dean of the college Donald E. Heller to create the position. “When we discussed creating this role—it was Terry who I had in mind.”
Flennaugh is still new to the position, and he credits much of the success of the urban education programs to scholars who have worked on the advancement of urban education for many years, such as Gunnings-Moton, Professor Gail Richmond and Professor Angela Calabrese Barton, among others.
“I have the benefit of moving into this position through the work that they have done,” he said. “I am building off work and relationships that they have helped cultivate.”