Verónica E. Valdez began as the new Department chair of Education, Culture, and Society (ECS) on July 1, 2022. She is one of two new department chairs in the College of Education this year. Read more about Robert Zheng, the new chair of the Department of Educational Psychology, here.
“Dr. Valdez will be an exceptional leader,” says Nancy Songer, dean of the College of Education. “She is passionate about community-engaged work and using education in meaningful ways that increase access and equity. Throughout her tenure at the University, she has cultivated numerous community partnerships and conducted valuable research that has a very real impact.”
As a teacher educator and interdisciplinary researcher, much of Valdez’s work focuses on language education and educational inequities; her goal is to understand how sociocultural factors (e.g., race language, class, policies and beliefs) intersect within the family, school and community to shape children’s multilingualism, multi/bi-literacy and their educational trajectories. In fact, Valdez’s most recent grant, a multi-year Department of Education (DoE) project, APEX (Advancing Pathways toward Equity and eXcellence with Educators of Multilingual Learners) illustrates her work and research passions, as well as her commitment to historically underserved communities. Project APEX builds educator efficacy in teaching diverse multilingual learners and building partnerships with their families and communities, the two most important predictors for achieving academic gains and closing opportunity gaps for multilingual learners. APEX targets parents, paraeducators, tutors, support personnel, pre-service and in-service teachers as the broad team of educators charged with shaping multilingual students’ educational experiences. Valdez and her diverse, all-women team have been so successful that APEX was recently ranked 12 out of 50 national professional development programs funded by DoE, beating out competitors such as Texas A&M, Baylor, Purdue and others.
In addition to research and community-engaged work with district partners, Valdez has extensive leadership experience, having served in several special interest groups (SIGs) for the nation’s largest educational research body, the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Her most recent SIG leadership roles as chair, program chair and nominations chair of the over 500-member strong Bilingual Education Research SIG, and of various committees within the Latina/o/x Research Issues SIG, allow Valdez to bring a rich array of skills and a strong network of national collaborators to her new role as ECS department chair. In April 2022, Valdez began a new leadership role within AERA that will continue until 2024, as chair of the AERA Special Interest Group Executive Committee, which oversees close to 200 SIGs across AERA and as a member of the AERA Council, the governing body of the association. The College of Education and the ECS department will benefit from the national and international perspectives she has gained through her AERA leadership experiences, as well as her extensive network.
“I’m excited to see how Valdez will advance the missions of ECS and the college in this new role,” says Songer. “ECS is a notable department for its community-engaged work and taking research from data to real-world practice. Valdez’s experience and passion make her the ideal candidate to build on these strengths and take the department even further than before.”