Dr. Pia Durkin is on a mission to inspire the next generation of educational leaders. For her, Bridgewater State University is the perfect home base.
Durkin is the College of Graduate Studies’ first ever scholar-in-residence, a position that seems like a natural fit given Durkin’s 40-year career in education and BSU’s commitment to training the next generation of teachers and administrators.
“I’m incredibly honored to serve as the first scholar-in-residence,” said Durkin, a former superintendent in New Bedford and Attleboro. “I feel an incredible responsibility to do it well. In many ways, we’re kind of creating the playbook.”
Durkin will spend the 2018-2019 academic year working on a book about her insights into K-12 academic leadership in city school systems, helping the college develop and promote its urban education graduate certificate program, and interacting with the campus community.
Durkin, who received the Distinguished Service Award at the 2018 graduate commencement ceremony, plans to visit BSU classrooms, give lectures, and be available to mentor students one-on-one.
She’s the perfect inaugural scholar because of her extensive background in public education and helping urban districts succeed, said Darren Macdonald, G’08, G’18, the college’s director of communication and outreach.
The scholar-in-residence program allows the college to collaborate with other areas of the university. Scholars further their work and BSU students and employees interact with and learn from experts like Durkin, Macdonald said.
“The College of Graduate Studies wishes to become better known as a hub of intellectual engagement,” said Dr. Lisa Krissoff Boehm, the college’s dean. “Within the college, academic excellence, rigorous coursework, and stellar scholarship mix with regional engagement.”
As superintendent in New Bedford, Durkin led the district through reforms that have turned around the 13,000-student school system. New Bedford High School’s graduation rate is the highest it has been in more than a decade. Meanwhile, the city’s middle schools have been redesigned and the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has released the district from state monitoring.
Now, Durkin wants to pass on what she has learned in her career.
Leaders, she said, include those with titles like principal or administrator and even classroom teachers. Good ones know it’s important to take risks and stand up for what’s best for the children.
“Public education can truly make a difference,” Durkin said. “It is the great equalizer in our society.”
Durkin will give her first BSU lecture Monday, Feb. 4, at 6 p.m. in the Dunn Conference Suite. She will discuss how teachers, support staff, and administrators can work together to make schools better places for children, and great places to work.