September 12, 2016 by Amanda Bradford, NMSU News Center
Andrea Fletcher, a veteran educational administrator who most recently served as chief academic officer for Las Cruces Public Schools, has joined the New Mexico State University College of Business as an assistant dean, and will serve as director of the Woodrow Wilson MBA Fellowship in Education Leadership Program.
Fletcher served in numerous roles during more than a decade with the Las Cruces school district, including as associate superintendent for turnaround initiatives, where she established a “Turnaround” office to provide support and accountability to some of the district’s lowest-performing schools. She led 14 schools through the University of Virginia’s School Turnaround Program and 10 schools through the New Mexico Public Education Department’s Principals Pursuing Excellence Program.
College of Business Dean James Hoffman said Fletcher’s experience and credentials were a natural fit for the Woodrow Wilson MBA program, which was launched in 2015 in partnership with the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and the NMPED.
The program aims to prepare leaders who will expand the use of analytics and evidence-based practices, raise student performance and improve the quality of school systems and teaching over time. The MBA students cover topics including organizational leadership, data analysis, marketing, finance, technology and entrepreneurship – all with an emphasis on how these content areas apply to education.
The program’s first cohort of nine school leaders will complete their MBA in Education Leadership degrees in August 2017, and a second cohort of 14 began their coursework in May.
“Andrea brings excellent leadership skills and experience, as well as familiarity with the Woodrow Wilson MBA Fellowship program,” Hoffman said. “I was really impressed with all of her ideas on how to expand the program and its impact on schools in New Mexico.”
Fletcher earned her master’s degree in educational administration at NMSU through Project LIBRA, or Leadership in Border Rural Areas, a program designed to develop leaders sensitive to border issues. Her undergraduate degree, from University of Texas at Austin, is a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting, giving her a combination of skillsets and perspectives that she said has been very useful in her administrative roles in education.
“Coming from a business background into being a school leader, I recognized early on that I thought about leadership in a way that’s different from many educators,” she said. “In many cases, our principals are great instructional leaders, but we have not always provided the tools they need to run the complex environment of leading a school.”
She said she was drawn to the Woodrow Wilson MBA Fellowship program because she saw it as an opportunity to have a greater impact on the quality of education in New Mexico by empowering principals and other leaders to allocate their resources to the greatest good and create learning environments and systems that support educators and other staff.
“I firmly believe that New Mexico could be doing very well in education, because we have very talented educators,” she said. “If we want to make a difference for students in New Mexico, we have to do a better job of preparing education leaders to navigate the tremendous changes underway in education.”
Each of the fellows receives a stipend, which covers full tuition and associated program expenses, including a summer boot camp designed to get them up to speed in key prerequisites. In exchange, each fellow agrees to serve in an approved school or district leadership role within the state for at least three years, with foundation-supported mentoring. Applications to the program are available by nomination only.
Funding for the fellowship at NMSU and a similar program at the University of New Mexico was provided by a grant from the New Mexico Public Education Department.
The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation also received a three-year grant of $2.1 million grant from the Daniels Fund to support expansion of New Mexico’s fellowship programs to include more fellows in future cohorts.
Hoffman said the NMSU program is one more way that the College of Business can help build up and support the pipeline of New Mexico students who are prepared to succeed in college and the workforce.
“We really needed a full-time director for the program who has a background in the public school system and a business degree,” Hoffman said. “We were very fortunate to find someone who has the right credentials and a deep knowledge of the unique strengths and challenges of our region.”
For more information on the Woodrow Wilson MBA Fellowship in Education Leadership Program at NMSU, visit http://business.nmsu.edu/academics/graduate-programs/mba-ww and http://woodrow.org/fellowship-page/ww-mba-partner-new-mexico-state-university/