Affiliated Researchers

Morgaen L. Donaldson Headshot

Morgaen L. Donaldson – CEPA Director

Morgaen L. Donaldson is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Connecticut and Director of the Center for Education Policy Analysis. She is also a Research Affiliate of the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers at Harvard University. She received an Ed.D. and Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and an AB from Princeton University.

Dr. Donaldson began her career as a high school teacher in urban and semi-urban schools and was a founding faculty member of the Boston Arts Academy, Boston’s public high school for the arts. She also served as a Project Director in a Gates Foundation-funded effort to replicate the best practices of small schools successfully serving low-income and minority populations.

As a researcher, Dr. Donaldson has completed quantitative and qualitative studies on teacher quality, teacher retention, school leadership, and teachers’ unions. Her research has been recognized and funded by the Spencer Foundation, the American Association for University Women, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Dr. Donaldson’s recent publications include “Teachers Union Presidents Chart their Own Course,” in Peabody Journal of Education (2008); “Angling for access, bartering for change: How second-stage teachers experience differentiated roles in schools” in Teachers College Record (2008); and “Building a human resource system in the Boston Public Schools,” in Paul Reville (Ed.), A Decade of Boston School Reform (2007).

Milagros Castillo Montoya Headshot

Milagros Castillo-Montoya


Milagros Castillo-Montoya is an assistant professor of higher education and student affairs in the Educational Leadership Department at the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. Her research focuses on equitable experiences and outcomes for traditionally underserved college students. Dr. Castillo-Montoya primarily studies teaching and learning in high-diversity colleges and universities with particular attention to the learning and development that first-generation African American and Latino students may experience during their undergraduate years. Her research seeks to understand: (1) what aspects of college/university students’ identities and their prior knowledge have bearing on their subject-matter learning; (2) how college/university students engage in subject-matter learning given the broad range of diversity (e.g. race, ethnicity, socio-economic class, religion, immigration status) present inside and outside college classrooms; and (3) how such learning informs college/university students’ thinking about themselves, other people, and society, thus contributing to their sociopolitical capacity.

Two other lines of inquiry include 1) how student affairs practitioners’ perceptions of assessment and research as a form of practice are shaped by the curriculum of their graduate preparation programs and 2) how Latino college students’ views of their identity and understanding of sociopolitical issues are informed by their engagement in Latino Cultural Center service-learning courses.

Dr. Castillo-Montoya has published in the Harvard Educational Review, Encyclopedia of Diversity in Education, and Academic Leadership. Prior to joining the Neag faculty, she served as an instructor of research methods in education for Teachers College, Columbia University. Dr. Castillo-Montoya began her career in higher education as an administrator and has experience in higher education policy, academic affairs, and student affairs. She holds a B.A. and M.S.W. from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and an Ed.D. in Higher and Postsecondary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University

Casey Cobb Headshot

Casey D. Cobb

Casey D. Cobb is the Raymond Neag Professor of Educational Policy at the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. Dr. Cobb is a National Education Policy Fellow and member of the Research Advisory Panel for the National Coalition on School Diversity. His current research interests include policies on school choice, accountability, and school reform, where he examines the implications for equity and educational opportunity. Dr. Cobb is former Editor of Educational Administration Quarterly and serves on the editorial boards for Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Education Policy Analysis Archives, and Education Research International, among others. He is co-author of Fundamentals of Statistical Reasoning in Education (Wiley/Jossey Bass, 4th ed.) and Leading dynamic schools (Corwin Press). Dr. Cobb has published in such journals as Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Educational Policy, Education and Urban Society, Educational Leadership, and the Peabody Journal of Education.  He is an elected member of the Executive Committee for the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) and a former member of Connecticut’s Region 19 School Board. He holds an A.B. from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from Arizona State University. Dr. Cobb is a former associate dean and department head of Educational Leadership at the Neag School.

Shaun Dougherty Headshot

Shaun M. Dougherty

Shaun M. Dougherty is an Associate Professor of Public Policy & Education in the Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations in Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University. He holds a doctoral degree in quantitative policy analysis from Harvard University as well as a master’s degree in educational administration from Gwynedd Mercy University. His research focuses on education policy analysis, causal program evaluation, and the economics of education. In particular, he emphasizes how education can address human capital development as well as issues of equity related to race, class, gender, and disability.  He has extensive experience working with state- and district-level databases, including Massachusetts and Arkansas, as well as three of the 25 largest districts in the United States. Dougherty is a former high school mathematics teacher and assistant principal. His work has been published in leading journals and has been cited by major media outlets such as the Atlantic and EdWeek. In addition, he has received research funding from the Institute for Education Sciences, the Smith Richardson Foundation, and the Institute for Research on Poverty, which also recognized him as an Early Career Scholar. Dougherty is also Strategic Data Project Faculty Adviser through the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University, and has conducted applied policy analysis with several states and large districts, as well as the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, and the Manhattan Institute.

Rachael Gabriel Headshot

Rachael Gabriel


Rachael Gabriel is an Associate Professor of Literacy Education at the University of Connecticut. She is the author or editor of several books for literacy teachers and education researchers and serves on the editorial boards of five major journals focused on literacy, education research and policy. Rachael’s career in education began as a middle school reading teacher in Washington, DC. Since then Rachael has worked as a literacy specialist, new teacher advisor and reading intervention provider. She earned a PhD in Literacy Studies from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and holds graduate certificates in both quantitative and qualitative research methods in education. Rachael is a former fellow of the Baker Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee and current associate of the Center for Education Policy Analysis (CEPA), and the Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability (CPED) at the University of Connecticut. Rachael’s research interests include: teacher development and evaluation, as well as literacy instruction, interventions, and related policies. Her current projects investigate supports for adolescent literacy, disciplinary literacy, and tools for teacher evaluation. 

Richard Gonzalez Headshot

Richard Gonzales


Richard Gonzales is an Assistant Professor in Residence and the Director of Educational Leadership Preparation Programs at the Neag School of Education. He received his M.Ed. and Ph.D. in educational administration from The University of Texas at Austin.

Before entering higher education, Dr. Gonzales worked as an elementary bilingual teacher, an elementary principal, and a district-level administrator.  His research interests include leadership development, equity issues in education, urban education, and school improvement.

He currently serves as an instructor in the University of Connecticut Administrator Preparation Program (UCAPP) and coordinates the UCAPP Preparing Leaders for Urban Schools (PLUS) project, a collaboration between the Hartford Public Schools and the Neag School of Education.

Preston Green Headshot

Preston Green


Preston Green is the John and Carla Klein Professor of Urban Education at the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education. He is also a professor of educational leadership and law at the University of Connecticut.

Before coming to the University of Connecticut, he was the Harry Lawrence Batschelet II Chair Professor of Educational Administration at Penn State, where he was also a professor of education and law and the program coordinator of Penn State’s educational leadership program. In addition, Dr. Green was the creator of Penn State’s joint degree program in law and education. Further, he ran the Law and Education Institute at Penn State, a professional development program that teaches, administrators, and attorneys about educational law. At the University of Massachusetts, Dr. Green was an associate professor of education. He also served as the program coordinator of educational administration and Assistant Dean of Pre-Major Advising Services. Dr. Green has written four books and numerous articles and book chapters pertaining to educational law. He primarily focuses on the legal and policy issues pertaining to educational access and school choice.

Jason Irizarry Headshot

Jason Irizarry


Jason Irizarry is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and faculty associate in El Instituto: Institute for Latina/a, Caribbean and Latin American Studies. He has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in multicultural education, culturally responsive curriculum development, participatory action research, and urban education. A central focus of his work involves promoting the academic achievement of youth in urban schools by addressing issues associated with educator preparation. His first book, The Latinization of U.S. Schools: Successful Teaching and Learning in Shifting Cultural Contexts, was awarded the Phillip C. Chin Book Award from the National Association for Multicultural Education. He is also the co-editor of Diaspora Studies in Education: Toward a Framework for Understanding the Experiences of Transnational Communities. Irizarry has an Ed.D. from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Anysia Mayer

Anysia Mayer is an Associate Professor in Educational Leadership at California State University, Stanislaus.


D. Betsy McCoach Headshot

D. Betsy McCoach


D. Betsy McCoach is a professor in the Measurement, Evaluation and Assessment program at the University of Connecticut. She has extensive experience in longitudinal data analysis, hierarchical linear modeling, instrument design, factor analysis, and structural equation modeling. Betsy has published over 100 journal articles, books, and book chapters, and she co-edited a volume Multilevel Modeling of Educational Data with Ann O'Connell. Betsy serves as a Co-Principal Investigator and research methodologist on several federally funded research grants, including the IES funded National Center for Research on Gifted Education. Betsy is the current Director of the DATIC, where she teaches summer workshops in Hierarchical Linear Modeling, Longitudinal Analysis, and Structural Equation Modeling, and she is the founder and conference chair of the Modern Modeling Methods conference, held at UCONN every May. 

Chris Rhoades Headshot

Chris Rhoads


Chris Rhoads received his Ph.D. in Statistics from Northwestern University in 2008, where his dissertation research focused on developing methods for improving the statistical power of cluster randomized experiments.  From 2008-2011 he was Institute of Education Sciences postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Policy Research at Northwestern University, under the mentorship Dr. Larry Hedges.

He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology in the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. His research interests focus on methods for improving causal inference in educational research, particularly in the areas of experimental design and the analysis of multi-level data structures.

Dr. Rhoads’ current work involves: exploring the implications of “contamination” of experimental interventions for the design and analysis of experiments with clustering; using prior information about the correlation structure to improve power and precision in experiments with clustering; determining optimal experimental designs for regression discontinuity studies; understanding the impact of implementation fidelity on the precision of estimates of treatment effectiveness; and relaxing the assumptions necessary to perform meta-analysis when there is within-study missing data.

Richard Schwab Headshot

Richard L. Schwab


Richard L. Schwab is the Raymond E. Neag Endowed Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Connecticut. Previously he served as Dean of the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut from 1997 to 2009 and 2014-2016, Dean of the School of Education at Drake University from 1992-1997, Department Head of Educational Leadership at Drake from 1990 to 1992, and Professor and Director of Field Experiences at the University of New Hampshire from 1980 to 1990. He is the past president of the Council of Academic Deans at Research Education Institutions (CADREI), a national organization for research oriented private and land grant schools/colleges of education. He has also served as president of the Northeastern Educational Research Association and is active in the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE) In April of 2001, Dr. Schwab was appointed to the National Commission for Teaching and America’s Future and continues to serve as commissioner and was appointed to the Board of Directors in 2009. He has also served on several other state and national commissions on issues relating to superintendent preparation, educational technology, and teacher education reform. Dr. Schwab has published extensively on issues relating to teacher education, occupational stress and health in educational organizations, and educational technology. His most recent book on the teacher education, portrait of a Profession:Teaching and Teachers in the 21st Century was published by Praeger Press (2005). In 2009 he received the Margaret Lindsey Award from AACTE for distinguished research in the field of teacher education. Dr. Schwab was a co-founder of the Journal of Personnel Evaluation and served as Associate Editor for 10 years. He has been on the editorial board for the Journal of Teacher Education.

John Settlage Headshot

John Settlage


John Settlage is a Professor in the Neag School of Education with primary teaching and advising responsibilities with the STEM Teacher Education program at the Avery Point campus. His PhD at University of Missouri was followed by academic and research positions in Boston, Cleveland, Salt Lake City...and now Connecticut.

Provoked by Connecticut's sizable science achievement disparities, Dr. Settlage has assembled a research team and acquired substantial support from the National Science Foundation. In addition to faculty and graduate students across all Neag departments, this project operates in close collaboration with researchers at the University of Central Florida. By investigating elementary school social infrastructure, Project SOSA (School Organization and Science Achievement) seeks to uncover explanations for wide variation in performance on the annual Grade 5 science test.

Findings from this work are published in science education journals and presented at international conferences on school effectiveness. Follow-up funding is being sought to translate this research into collaborative improvements in association with city school districts and their science leaders.

Robert Villanova Headshot

Robert M. Villanova


Robert M. Villanova  also currently serves on the faculty of the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. He is the Director of the Executive Leadership Program. This program is designed to prepare school district leaders for the challenges of 21st century educational leadership. Bob has served on the faculty for this program for the past twelve years teaching courses related to systemic leadership for district improvement, human resource development, school district operations, and the application of district leadership “best practice” through the superintendent internship. He also teaches in the Department of Educational Leadership’s Ed.D Program. Dr.Villanova was appointed in March 2013 as the Director of LEAD Connecticut. LEAD Connecticut represents an unprecedented collaboration among state and national organizations with deep expertise in leadership and leadership development in partnership with the Connecticut State Department of Education. Dr. Villanova serves as a district leadership consultant for the CT Center for School Change. He was a charter member of the Center’s Superintendents’ Network and now works as a facilitator/consultant in support of the Superintendents’ Network and other Center leadership development initiatives. From 1993 through January 2009 Bob served as superintendent of the Farmington, Connecticut Public Schools. During Bob’s tenure as superintendent the district consistently performed in the top 5 to 10% of CT school districts on state and national performance measures. Each of the seven Farmington schools was recognized as an exemplary school through various state and national programs during this period. Dr. Villanova was honored s the Connecticut Association of School Superintendents’ Superintendent of the Year in 2008.

Dr. Villanova continues to be involved in numerous leadership development initiatives including organizing and presenting Advanced Leadership Development Seminars for Superintendents in Connecticut and Rhode Island, supporting the professional development partnership between the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents and the Neag School of Education, providing leadership development institutes for district leadership teams, organizing and facilitating Instructional Rounds in school districts, completing special assignments for the Commissioner of Education related to board governance and district leadership and working as an executive coach with early career superintendents.

Megan Welsh Headshot

Megan Welsh

Megan Welsh is an assistant professor in educational assessment and measurement at The University of California, Davis.

Jennie M. Weiner Headshot

Jennie M. Weiner


Jennie M. Weiner is an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at Neag. Her policy work focuses on issues of leadership including those related to gender and race, capacitybuilding, organizational culture and change particularly in relation to chronically underperforming schools and districts. She has worked for a variety of districts and state departments of education in supporting improvement efforts including the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) where she co-created a suite of tools to be used to identify, diagnose, monitor and support underperforming schools. She has also served as a consultant to the Connecticut Center for School Change to co-create tools for principal and superintendent assessment and improvement and recently worked on a report for the Connecticut Council for Educational Reform on Alliance District Planning processes. Dr. Weiner began her career as a middle and high school teacher and then was a senior research associate for the Teacher Advancement Program (TAP) at the Milken Family Foundation. Dr. Weiner holds a Master’s in Education in Administration, Planning and Social Policy and a Doctorate of Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education

Jennie M. Weiner Headshot

Suzanne Wilson

Dr. Suzanne M. Wilson is a Neag Endowed Professor of Teacher Education at the University of Connecticut where she currently serves as Professor and Department Head in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Her undergraduate degree is in history and American Studies from Brown University; she also has a M.S. in Statistics and a Ph.D. in Psychological Studies in Education from Stanford University. She was a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University, where she served on the faculty for 26 years. Wilson also served as the first director of the Teacher Assessment Project (PI, Lee Shulman), which developed prototype assessments for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Dr. Wilson is a committed teacher, having taught undergraduate, MA, and doctoral classes in educational policy, teacher learning, and research methods.

While at Michigan State, Wilson collaborated on several large-scale research projects, including the National Center for Research on Teacher Education/Teacher Learning, the Educational Policy and Practice Study, and the National Partnership for Excellence and Accountability in Teaching. She has written on teacher knowledge, curriculum reform, educational policy, and teacher learning. She is currently co-PI on several NSF-funded projects concerning documenting the effects of professional development in STEM-related fields on teacher and student learning and engagement. Her current work concerns exploring various measures of teaching and teachers’ understanding that might be used for teacher education and education research, as well as a study of the contemporary and jurisdictional battles over who should control teacher education and licensure. She has published in American Educator, American Educational Research Journal, Educational Researcher, Elementary School Journal, Journal of Teacher Education, Phi Delta Kappan, and Teaching Education. She is author of California Dreaming: Reforming Mathematics Education (Yale, 2003), and editor of Lee Shulman’s collection of essays, Wisdom of practice: Essays on teaching, learning, and learning to teach (Jossey-Bass, 2004). Wilson serves on multiple editorial and advisory boards; she is also a member of the the National Academy of Education.

Sarah Woulfin Headshot

Sarah Woulfin


Sarah Woulfin, an associate professor in Neag’s department of Educational Leadership, studies the relationship between education policy and instructional improvement. Using lenses from organizational sociology, she investigates how leaders influence responses to reform. Dr. Woulfin’s work has been published in AERJ, EAQ, EEPA, Educational Researcher, and other outlets. She is currently investigating district infrastructure enabling instructional coaching. In her doctoral work at the University of California-Berkeley, she focused on policy implementation and institutional theory.

Dr. Woulfin is the PI of a Spencer Foundation grant on the institutionalization of coaching and is the co-PI of a Wallace Foundation grant to redesign principal preparation in Connecticut. She serves as an associate editor for Elementary School Journal.