The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill today announced that Fouad Abd-El-Khalick has been selected as the new dean for the School of Education, one of the oldest professional schools at Carolina. He is currently the associate dean for research and research education in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).
“We are pleased to welcome Fouad Abd-El-Khalick as the dean of the School of Education,” said Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost James W. Dean Jr. “He brings outstanding global experience as a science education scholar, award-winning teacher and leader of diversified partnerships tackling complex educational issues. We are certain his contributions at UNC-Chapel Hill will greatly enrich the lives of the students, faculty and staff in our School of Education and across campus.”
Abd-El-Khalick has been at UIUC since 2000, where he is the Grayce Wicall Gauthier Professor of Education. He has published extensively in science education and is an award-winning teacher. His research focuses on the teaching and learning about the nature of science in grades K-12, and in preservice and in-service science teacher education settings. He has helped develop and lead partnerships involving UIUC and other universities, local school districts and others to improve the practice of science teaching.
The University appointment, effective July 1, was approved by UNC’s Board of Trustees. He succeeds Bill McDiarmid, who served as dean from 2009 to the end of 2015, leading the school as it built new academic programs, increased diversity among its faculty and prepared for a capital campaign. Deborah Eaker-Rich, senior associate dean and chief academic officer for the School of Education, has served as interim dean since January.
Abd-El-Khalick was selected after a national search chaired by Gary Marchionini, dean of Carolina’s School of Information and Library Science.
“Serving as dean provides a unique opportunity to work alongside a large group of talented and committed faculty, staff, students, alumni and leaders both within the School of Education and across the UNC-Chapel Hill campus and beyond to address issues that are of critical importance to the wellbeing of the state, nation and the globe,” Abd-El-Khalick said.
“It is a privilege to be in a position where one gets to connect talented researchers, teachers, and community organizations and members together, and work with them to access the sorts of resources, opportunities and supports to take head on some of the most vexing problems facing not only our K-12 schools, but our higher education system as well,” he said.
Abd-El-Khalick grew up in Lebanon, earning a bachelor of science degree in biology, a diploma in teaching secondary science and a Master of Arts in science education from the American University of Beirut. He came to the United States for graduate school, earning a doctorate in science education from Oregon State University in 1998.
After earning his doctorate, Abd-El-Khalick spent two years on the faculty at the American University of Beirut in the Department of Education before joining UIUC. At UIUC, Abd-El-Khalick rose from the rank of assistant professor to full professor in 2010, then became head of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the College of Education in 2011. He was named associate dean for research and research education in 2014.
Abd-El-Khalick serves as co-editor of the Journal of Research in Science Teaching and serves on the executive board of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching. From NARST he has received the Early Research Career Award (2003), the Journal of Research in Science Teaching Award (2001) and Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award (1999).
His research focuses on the teaching and learning about nature of science in grades K-12, and in preservice and in-service science teacher education settings. He also maintains an active international program of educational research, development and consultation in the Middle East.
At UIUC, he was named the College of Education Distinguished Scholar Award in 2005, the Distinguished Senior Scholar Award in 2011 and he was named a University Scholar for 2006-2009. He received the College’s Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award for Faculty in 2004.
Abd-El-Khalick’s wife, Lama Boufajreldin, has a doctorate in natural resources and environmental sciences from UIUC and is an associate research scientist in the university’s Prairie Research Institute. They have two children, an 8-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter.
A reception to welcome Fouad Abd-El-Khalick to Carolina is set for 1-2 p.m. Tuesday, April 26, at the Carolina Inn.