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UConn professor, administrator to become dean of Neag School

by Karen A. Grava - December 1, 2008

Thomas DeFranco, associate dean of the Neag School of Education, has been named dean for a five-year term, starting in summer 2009.

DeFranco will replace Richard Schwab, who is stepping down after 12 years as dean. At the end of DeFranco’s five-year term, there will be a national search for a new dean.

Schwab will return to teaching. He will continue as director of the Institute for Urban School Improvement and will provide leadership to the Compact Schools Initiative.

Named a Teaching Fellow in 2001, one of UConn’s highest honors, DeFranco, a professor of curriculum and instruction, also holds a joint appointment in the mathematics department in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

His research focuses on mathematical problem-solving, as well as on the teaching and learning of mathematics at the K-16 level.

De Franco is a founder and co-director of the University’s Center for Research in Mathematics Education, an interdisciplinary center that blends the math department’s emphasis on content and the Neag School’s interest in pedagogy and performance.

He was also one of two people responsible for developing the proposal that resulted in the University being selected as one of the Carnegie Foundation’s Teachers for a New Era partner.

“Dr. DeFranco is nationally known for his work in teacher preparation and for his leadership abilities,” says Provost Peter J. Nicholls.

“He has led numerous collaborations between the Neag school and K-12 districts in the state. He has also pioneered joint ventures between schools and colleges on the UConn campus. He will be a great asset to the Neag School as it continues its many excellent programs, its involvement with Connecticut schools, and its continued rise in the national rankings.”

Thomas DeFranco, associate dean, will assume the post of dean of the Neag School of Education next summer.
Thomas DeFranco, associate dean, will assume the post of dean of the Neag School of Education next summer. Photo by Frank Dahlmeyer

A graduate of the State University of New York at New Paltz, DeFranco holds an M.S. degree from Seton Hall University and a Ph.D. from New York University.

After college, he taught math at the elementary and secondary levels, then went on to teach math at St. John’s University, at the Staten Island campus.

He took a post in mathematics education at the University of Hartford in 1988 and joined the faculty at UConn in 1991.

“It is a great honor to be named the next dean of the Neag School of Education,” says DeFranco.

“Over the past 12 years, under the leadership of Richard Schwab, the school has become one of the leading schools of education in the nation. I look forward to continuing Dean Schwab’s visionary work, as well as working with the many talented faculty, staff, and administrators within the school and across campus to continue the important work of preparing the next generation of teachers, leaders, and workforce professionals.”

The Neag School of Education is ranked 21st in the country by U.S.News & World Report, and number one among public schools of education in the Northeast. Four of its specialty programs rank among the nation’s top 25.

A fifth program, the kinesiology doctoral program, is ranked #1 in the country (tied with Pennsylvania State University) by the American Academy of Kinesiology and Physical Education.

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