SED Dean’s Fellow Walter Fernando Balser Appointed Clinical Professor of Educational Leadership at University of Denver

BalserThis June, Dr. Walter Fernando Balser, a graduate of the BU School of Education’s doctoral program in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies and former Dean’s Fellow, will take on the position of Clinical Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Denver (DU). Dr. Balser will mentor cohorts of masters and certificate students as they pursue state licensure in educational leadership. Additionally, he will advise doctoral students and contribute to a variety of service-oriented initiatives through ‘s Morgridge College of Education.

Dr. Balser notes that the appointment’s interdisciplinary nature and DU’s institutional commitment to blending research and practice make for a logical extension of the work he conducted at SED. “One of the components that attracted me most to the SED doctoral program was the freedom to explore electives within SED and across BU,” he says. “I combined coursework in educational policy, nonprofit management, business, communications, and urban planning. This was not only central to building hard skills around fundraising and public relations, which are now central to educational leadership, it was also critical for building a deeper awareness of how different sectors engage in the education space.”

As a Dean’s Fellow at SED, Dr. Balser worked one-on-one with Dr. Hardin Coleman, then Dean of SED, to translate this interdisciplinary knowledge into a research agenda that focused on how private capital and cross-sector collaboration plays out in education ecosystems.

“What emerged was a new typology we termed PK-12 Blended Capital Partnerships, a space where the traditional education sector meets business, philanthropy, and innovation,” says Dr. Balser, who notes that related research may delve into questions of partnership management, shared objectives, and preserving community voice and promoting inclusion. “There are 185,000 organizations doing business in American schools,” he continues. “What they’re doing in this rapidly evolving K-12 marketplace can indeed have an influence on the teacher pipeline, primarily among youth of color.”

As part of his Fellowship, Dr. Balser also helped establish the Educators Rising program at BU, which works to introduce high school students of color to the teaching profession through specialized classwork and hands-on experience. From 2013 to 2016, Balser worked with Mike Dennehy and Professor Philip Tate to launch the program in three Boston area high schools. This effort included offering cooperating teachers a graduate course, ED520 Preparing for Educators. “This, too, greatly influenced both my research and my skills in program-building,” says Dr. Balser.

Prior to this appointment, Dr. Balser served as the founding director of the Open Partnership Education Network (OPEN) at the University of South Florida. “With OPEN, I had a chance to apply all of the knowledge gained at BU to create a community-based partnership framework that helps make cities smarter and better connected through thematic community dialogue,” he says. As part of his work on OPEN, Balser helped found the Radical Schools Jam, a disruptive convening that brought together thought leaders from across the country to share ideas on K-12 innovation.

SED congratulates Dr. Balser on his new appointment, and we are proud that a member of our community will bring his ideas and training into service at another college of education.