By Howard Fletcher
For The Diamondback

Jennifer Rice has spent years researching how to gather and allocate resources for students to ensure everyone has the same educational opportunities.

And after more than 20 years working in the University of Maryland's education college, Rice said she wants to bring her experiences and expertise to her newest position: the college's dean.

"I have developed strong relationships with the college and across the campus community," Rice said. "I have also worked closely with state leaders and policy makers on a variety of education policy issues. I hope to build on those relationships to create opportunities for faculty and students in the college."

Rice, who began working at this university in 1995 as an assistant professor, serves as the associate dean for graduate studies and faculty affairs, as well as an education policy professor. She will become dean on July 1.

Provost Mary Ann Rankin said in a news release that she was "very enthusiastic" about the future of the college under Rice.

"She has a clear vision for the college, a deep commitment to excellence, transparency, and collaboration and a tremendously effective personal management style," Rankin said in the news release. "She will be a great dean and university leader. I look forward eagerly to working with her."

Prior to joining this university, Rice conducted research about educational policy, equity and social justice at the Mathematica Policy Research think tank in Washington, D.C. She also worked at the Finance Center of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education at Cornell University.

Before that, she earned her bachelor's degree in mathematics and English at Marquette University in 1990 and her master's degree in 1993 from Cornell University, where she additionally earned her doctorate in education administration and social foundations.

Her most recent work focuses on topics including the policies and resources needed to staff all schools with high-quality educators. This past year, Rice was a fellow in the Big Ten Academic Leadership Program, which aims to address challenges at major research universities and equip faculty members with the skills to meet them.

"The experience has provided opportunities for me to discuss cross-cutting issues and build a network with other Big 10 leaders," Rice said. "I expect that I will be drawing on that network in the years to come."

Rice is also the founding director of the college's Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership, which is "committed to the creation of educational opportunities that enable all individuals to realize their full potential as citizens in a pluralistic society and an interdependent world," according to its website. Through her work with the center, Rice said she started to make positive improvements in local, national, and international education communities.

"In this college, we grapple with some of the most critical and consequential social issues of our time," Rice said. "Economic prosperity, democratic values, civic engagement, equal opportunity, appreciation for diversity, social justice — these national and international goods depend on a strong, vibrant and inclusive educational system. One that ranges from early childhood though higher education and beyond."

But Rice credits the success of the college to the leadership of current Dean Donna Wiseman, who served as the interim dean during the 2007-08 academic year before being promoted to the dean position in May 2008.

Under Wiseman's leadership, the student counseling and personnel services graduate program has remained the highest ranking program of its kind in the nation, "an accomplishment unmatched by any other University of Maryland graduate program," she said.

"I am delighted that Dr. Jennifer King Rice has been selected to be our new Dean of the College of Education," Francine Hultgren, professor and chair of the Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership, wrote in an email. "She not only brings a history of our college and campus … but she also brings the disciplinary, research and leadership strengths that will move the college forward from the reorganization efforts of the past five years."

Rice said she is excited to continue her commitment to this university.

"This university is a special place, and I've been here for a long time," Rice said.  "I am looking forward to working with the faculty, staff, and students in an inclusive process of strategic plan for the next decade that builds upon our strengths, and positions our college to help address some of the most enduring problems in education."