Alumni Profile: Peter Hlebowitsh
Dr. Peter Hlebowitsh (Ed.D. ‘87), Dean of the College of Education at the University of Alabama, began his career in education as a public school teacher in Princeton, New Jersey. But it wasn’t until he enrolled in the Curriculum Theory and Development Ed.M. program at Rutgers Graduate School of Education that he discovered how he felt he could make a difference in the conduct of the school system.
“I felt that the work being done by faculty members like Dr. Tanner was closely connected to the schools and the lives of teachers,” says Hlebowitsh. “My classes at the GSE helped me understand that the rational behind the scholarship had to make a distinct contribution toward improving the lives of kids and school teachers.”
After earning his master’s degree, Hlebowitsh didn’t delay in enrolling in the GSE’s Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education program. Surrounded by school-based peers, and mentored by leading faculty, Hlebowitsh felt empowered by the energy within the halls of the GSE.
“The caliber of the scholarship was so high,” said Hlebowitsh. “My main professors were J.J. Chambliss, James Giarelli, and of course, Daniel Tanner. It was an especially profound experience for me to be in the company of these three outstanding scholars. The graduate students were also impressive and our work was held to a high standard. We felt that we needed to activate change with our work, and we understood that quality education didn’t rest solely on the shoulders of good teachers, but was also dependent on solid research that informed good judgment.”
Hlebowitsh earned his doctorate from the GSE in 1987 and held teaching positions at the University of Houston, and Long Island Universitybefore moving to the University of Iowa in 1993. At Iowa, he led the program in Curriculum Theory and Development, secured more than $1.45 million in curriculum development grants, and eventually served as the Executive Officer of the Department of Teaching and Learning.
Always dedicated to his work in the area of curriculum theory and development, Hlebowitsh helped direct large-scale curriculum development projects related to civic education reforms in post-Soviet societies in Central and Eastern Europe. He authored several articles dealing with the legacy of the progressive movement in educationand wrote two textbooks – Designing the School Curriculum, and Foundation of American Education. He also served on the editorial board of the Journal of Curriculum Studies and was the Secretary to the John Dewey Society.
Hlebowitsh assumed his role as the tenth dean of the College of Education at the University of Alabama in 2013. In less than three years of service, he founded the college’s Educational Neuroscience Laboratory, which works to advance research in brain mapping related to instructional tasks, and opened an Office for Evaluation and Measurement, which provides evaluation services to the university community and to various school and government constituencies. He also reactivated the College’s Belser-Parton Literacy Center, which is dedicated to the cause of improving reading achievement in the State of Alabama.
And yet Hlebowitsh insists that the best is yet to come: “We are putting together the pieces to demonstrate improved research productivity and a powerful and sustainable school and community outreach,” said Hlebowitsh. “We want to deliver first-rate teachers and administrators to the state and nation, train school-based researchers who will help inform the judgments of school practitioners, and make a good mark in the research community. We have big goals, but the best part about being a dean is having the discretionary space to make a difference in the world by motivating and empowering really smart people.”
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