The Ph.D. in K-16 Educational Leadership and Policy Studies is a direct outgrowth of initiatives created and sustained by COEd Dean Jeanne Gerlach as the Associate Vice President for K-16 Initiatives. Since 2003, Dean Gerlach has directed University-wide efforts for K-16 education. Created by Dean Gerlach, the UT Arlington K-16 Council is a leader and model partnership for K-16 initiatives for the state of Texas. The K-16 Council is composed of K-12 independent school district educators, community college educators, community representatives, business and corporate leaders, and educators from across UT Arlington content areas. The K-16 Council advocates beliefs that are responsive to society's needs; emphasizes continuity of student learning across sectors; and is committed to the goals of increasing success rates and closing the gaps in achievement among all students, kindergarten to college, with a particular focus on low-income, African American, and Latino students.
Throughout her administration of the K-16 Council, Dean Gerlach has devised ways to take the Council’s work to scale and to the classroom; opened lines of communication between leaders and their institutions; championed work focused on student achievement; conceptualized the priorities of the K-16 Council leaders and articulated them to the public at large; and set clear, high standards for what K-16 students need to know and do. UT Arlington representatives include the College of Nursing, College of Science, College of Liberal Arts, the School of Social Work, the Office of Graduate Studies, the Library, the Fort Worth Santa Fe Center, and the Center for Community Service Learning. Non-UT Arlington representatives include the Hurst Euless Bedford, Arlington, Dallas, and Fort Worth Independent School Districts; McLennan Community College; Tarrant County College; Texas Christian University; the Arlington, Fort Worth and Dallas Chambers of Commerce; and the Education Service Center 11.
This history and strong tradition in support of K-16 initiatives served as a foundation for the Doctor of Philosophy in K-16 Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, one of only a few programs nationally focused on K-16 issues and concerns.