Michigan State University scholar Terah Venzant Chambers is poised to enact educational change on a national and local level after appointments to two leadership positions.
In a national capacity, she was appointed president-elect for the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) in November.
Venzant Chambers will oversee the planning and development for the organization’s annual leadership conference. A selected group of scholars from across the country will help her with this goal, including setting up a theme and inviting speakers to the 2018 event in Houston, Texas.
It’s a “significant responsibility” for more reasons than one, says Venzant Chambers, an associate professor of K-12 educational administration.
“Educational leadership as a field is poised to take an active role in turbulent times. We need to take a stance, be involved,” she said. She sought out the opportunity to be part of the executive committee for UCEA is because of this ideal. She also knew the 2018 conference would be held in Houston, where she has family connections.
“Texas is going through some unprecedented challenges,” she continued. “Political turbulence, LGBT rights, immigration—just to name a few. I want to make sure we’re highlighting and caring about these important issues coming to a head in Texas and in the U.S.”
Leadership and legacy
This isn’t the first role she’s had in the organization since becoming involved around 2010. She was on the UCEA Plenum, a set of representatives from each of the organization’s member institutions, while on faculty at Texas A&M University. Assistant Professor Chris Torres holds the same responsibility for MSU today.
In 2013, after joining the faculty at MSU, Venzant Chambers was elected to the executive committee, and was part of the planning committee for that year’s conference. In addition, for several years she’s been the leader of a successful and lauded presentation at the annual gathering: “Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda: What we wish we knew before becoming professors,” an exploration into the transition from graduate school to faculty positions.
In 2019, following her year as president-elect, she will transition to being president of UCEA.
“The UCEA is an intentional and proactive organization,” Venzant Chambers said. “I have a responsibility to keep that going, to hold up a legacy of activism.”
In November, Venzant Chambers was also appointed to fill an empty seat on the East Lansing Public Schools Board of Education.
She had been a regular and active attendee to board meetings for years. Later, she started taking leadership roles. She joined a panel on achievement gaps and was selected to be part of a community bond committee to examine how to make the schools better, both in 2016. A bill to build and remodel East Lansing elementary schools, formulated from ideas created by that committee, passed in May 2017. By 2021, the community will have five new and one remodeled school to give students a new, upgraded place to learn.
“I care about East Lansing schools,” Venzant Chambers said. She will hold the new position through the end of 2018. “I feel a responsibility to help make positive changes.”