Dr. R. Craig Wood


School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education

2015-2016 UF Doctoral Mentoring Award Winner

It has been my view that if a person were to come to the University of Florida to pursue a doctoral degree the candidate should expect that the professors within the discipline to be known nationally.  If a doctoral student were to select the University of Florida he or she should be given the opportunity to actively participate within a community of research scholars by way of being involved in the ongoing research of the program.  Doctoral students should be welcomed into a healthy environment of research that would enhance their research skills and build upon their proficiencies in developing additional skills so as to build a vitae that would be attractive to a number of different agencies.  The research, writing, and speaking opportunities offered to doctoral students would prepare them with a set of research skills to compete in the national job market of their respective discipline.

During my work at the University of Florida my students have won six national dissertations of the year awards from different academic organizations.  Carlee Escue (University of Cincinnati) won the 2012 National Education Finance Conference Dissertation of the Year Award for  “An Examination of Adequate Yearly Progress as a Means of Funding Public Elementary and Secondary Education for Impoverished Students in a Selected State: Free and Reduced Lunch and Supplemental Indicators.”  Luke Stedrak(Seton Hall University)won the Dissertation of the Year Award in 2012 and 2013 from the American Association for Educational Research as well as the National Education Finance Conference for his dissertation, “An Examination of State Funding Models Regarding Virtual Schools for Public Elementary and Secondary Education in the United States.”  Previously, Michael O’Loughlin (deceased) won the Dissertation of the Year Award from the American Education Finance Association for his study, “The Effects of Additional Revenues for Sparsity on the Equity of a State School Finance System.”  Scott Bauries, (University of Kentucky) was the recipient of the Education Law Association Outstanding Dissertation Award for his study, “Judicial Review and the Separation of Powers in State Constitutional Litigation Challenging the Adequacy of Education Spending:  Complementary Analyses and a Proposed Adjudicatory Model.” Previously, Theresa Harrison (Director, Peaceful Paths, Gainesville) won the Outstanding Dissertation of the Year Award from the Education Law Association, for her study, “Educational Due Process and Adjudicated Youth: A Legal Analysis of School District Policies, Procedures, and Practices in Florida.”

My mentoring style is largely one-on-one given the nature of our discipline.  A critical mass of graduate students is helpful in that they also learn from each other and bring to the program a wide variety of viewpoints and diverse thinking which is healthy and productive.  My specific mentoring style is best described as one of questioning and challenging the assumptions that most students have when they enter graduate school.  They must factor the rigor and the challenge of preparing for a series of tasks and accomplishments that lead to an insightful and thoughtful dissertation.  In this manner, they are prepared to focus their energies on the work and tasks of making public policy that enhances the education of children within our society.

The chair of one’s doctoral dissertation should be able to offer national visibility.  Through publications with the major professor this will enable the doctoral student to formulate and to actively engage in a line of research inquiry that would assist students in increasing their national visibility and reputation.  I believe that I have aided this process.  Through a variety of publications and speaking engagements with my doctoral students they have been able to develop a research inquiry as well as to facilitate their research to state policy makers and legislative staffs, to scholarly peers, as well as to formulate better public policies regarding the funding of public education.

Research with my graduate students has been presented at virtually every national conference in the nation regarding the financial and/or legal aspects of public education.  I have, with my graduate students, delivered sessions at the Education Law Association, the American Education Finance Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, American Educational Research Association, the National Center for Educational Statistics Annual Meeting, the National Education Finance Conference, and a host of other conferences over the years.

Specifically, I have published with my graduate students in the Journal of Education Finance, Education Law Reporter, Brigham Young University Education and Law Journal, Educational Considerations, Education Law Association Notes, Illinois State Education Law & Policy Journal, Planning and Changing, and School Business Affairs.  Publications with my doctoral advisees also reflect chapters in the American Education Finance Yearbook, Public School Finance Aid Programs and the Principal’s Legal Handbook.

Students’ success includes professorships at the University of Oklahoma, the University of Kentucky, the University of Cincinnati, Auburn University, Seton Hall University, Illinois State University, Stetson University, and the University of North Florida.  Additionally, other success includes a president of a community college, a community college vice president, a director of an oversees school, a director of research for a national teacher organization, a director of a state policy institute, several assistant superintendents, and numerous school district level directors, and building principals.  Thus, I believe, my doctoral mentoring demonstrates a high degree of national accomplishments that are interwoven with graduate student involvement and success.  This totality of my work with graduate students in terms of dissertation advising and mentoring reflects my commitment to our students and our programs at the University of Florida.