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Outstanding Dissertation Award: Department of Leadership Studies

Congratulations to Corinne Brion, this year's winner of the William P. Foster Outstanding Dissertation Award for her dissertation, entitled: Low-Fee Private Schools in West Africa: Case Studies from Burkina Faso and Ghana. 

This dissertation examined the transfer of learning from leadership training workshops in two nations in West Africa. The participants in the workshops were the leaders of Low Fee Private Schools (LFPSs) serving some of the most economically challenged families on this planet. This study highlighted the fact that little empirical research exists on LFPSs, yet they play critical roles in the educational systems of emerging nations. In addition, the study detailed how school leadership is a nascent field in all Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the opportunity for educators to study school leadership is either nonexistent (in a country such as Burkina Faso) or limited to one university (such as in Ghana). The findings for this study will be particularly helpful to NGO practitioners and ministries of education. In this study, all 13-school leaders from both Burkina Faso and Ghana were able to transfer some learning after the three-day leadership training. Although there was evidence of transfer related to all aspects of the four modules studied, much of the visible transfer was related to improving the building facilities.  

To highlight one impact of this study, three weeks after defending this dissertation, the student presented at the UNESCO world conference on mobile technology in LCDs. Practitioners from large NGOs (Save the Child, UNICEF, Worldreader) and founding agencies (e.g., DFID, US Aid, Ford), university scholars in international development and officials in ministries of education from the LDCs participated in this conference. This student’s session was so popular there was standing room only and numerous participants asked how they could obtain a copy of the study.

About the William P. Foster Outstanding Dissertation Award for Doctoral Students

Dr. William Foster was a professor in Leadership Studies in the School of Education from 1981-1992. Dr. Foster played a vital role, in conjunction with Dr. Joseph Rost, in developing what was the first doctoral program in Leadership Studies in the nation.  His book, Paradigms and Promises:  New Approaches to Educational Administration (1986), was a major contribution to the discipline of Leadership Studies and school administration.  His colleagues and students in the School of Education and across the country held him in high esteem for his valuable contributions to the study of Leadership. While in the School of Education at USD, Dr. Foster served as dissertation chair for over 20 Leadership Studies Doctoral students, and was on more than 35 dissertation committees. In 1992, he left USD to take a position as professor and Program Chair in Educational Leadership at Indiana University. William Foster passed away on April 22, 2003. This award is a tribute to his dedication to the study and practice of transformational leadership, and to his commitment to producing excellent research in the discipline.