Former school superintendent named interim education dean

Contact: Jeanne Baron
Photo of Dr. Walter L. .


KALAMAZOO—Dr. Walter L. Burt, associate professor of educational leadership, research and technology, has been appointed interim dean of the College of Education and Human Development at Western Michigan University.

Burt replaces Dr. Van Cooley, who had been serving as interim dean but died suddenly July 31. Burt's appointment is effective Oct. 15 through June 30, 2013, pending approval by the WMU Board of Trustees.

"Walter Burt brings to the college many years of education leadership," says WMU Provost Timothy Green. "I'm very appreciative of his willingness to step in and lead the college after Van Cooley's untimely death. He will lead the college while we continue our search for a permanent dean."

Walter L. Burt

Prior to coming to WMU in 2004, Burt was project manager in the District Alliance Programs of the Stupski Foundation in Mill Valley, Calif., for a year. The position put him in charge of facilitating districtwide reform in the New Haven (Conn.) and Paterson (N.J.) schools.

He served as superintendent of the Pontiac (Mich.) School District from 1999 to 2003, and the district's board asked him last November to serve as interim superintendent of schools through August 2012. His main duties in that role included developing a state-approved deficit elimination

plan for the financially strapped system as well as an approved district reorganization plan.

Burt also has served as a school administrator in Gary, Ind., and in the Michigan cities of Flint, Grand Rapids and Albion. He began his career in education as a private and public school teacher in Muskegon, Mich.

Burt has co-written three books and written or co-written several journal articles and technical reports. He focuses his research on educational leadership, with particular emphasis on leadership development of school administrators in urban school settings.

While at the University, Burt has worked on a variety of state and federal grant projects, including serving as a co-principal investigator for the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs project and as a research associate for Wallace Foundation and U.S. Department of Education projects.

He is a former Mott Foundation Fellow, an Urban Health Initiative Fellow with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and a graduate of the Broad Foundation Fellows Executive Management Program for Urban Superintendents.

Burt was an adjunct professor in WMU's Department of Educational Leadership from 1974 to 1998, and also has taught or lectured at Aquinas College, Grand Valley State University, Wayne State University and University of Michigan.

He earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Alcorn State University in 1967, a master's degree in educational administration from Eastern Michigan University in 1972 and a doctoral degree in educational administration from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1975.