UF honors ed. finance faculty scholar for doctoral mentoring

Professor R. Craig Wood is the college's latest winner of the UF Faculty Doctoral Mentoring Award for outstanding work with his graduate students, many of whom have won national honors for their dissertations.
R. Craig Wood

R. Craig Wood

College of Education Professor R. Craig Wood has received many accolades during his 40-plus year career.

But his latest honor may be the one he cherishes the most: Wood is the College of Education’s latest winner of the UF Faculty Doctoral Mentoring Award.

The honor, given annually by the University of Florida Graduate School, recognizes professors who provide doctoral students with exceptional mentoring as they complete their final dissertations.

“This award is one that probably has the most lasting impact because you are helping to start careers,” Wood said. “When I’m long gone and retired, these scholars will be making names for themselves and making society better.”

More About R. Craig Wood

R. Craig Wood started his career in public schools, working as a classroom teacher, school district business manager, and assistant superintendent for finance for school districts in North Carolina, Wisconsin and Connecticut.

He received a doctorate in education from Virginia Tech and served as a professor of education finance at Purdue University before coming to UF, where he has now spent more than a quarter of century.

Among his accomplishments:

  • Authored or co-authored four definitive textbooks with titles such as Money & Schools
  • Published 250 articles in academic journals, including the Journal of Education Finance
  • Presented at numerous academic conferences
  • Served as the lead expert witness in court cases in more than a dozen states in disputes over the manner public funds are distributed to school districts
  • Co-founder and president of the year-old National Education Finance Academy. In November, he also was elected president of the Education Law Association.

Wood, a professor of educational administration and policy, is among the nation’s leading scholars in the all-important field of education finance.

Since he joined the UF College of Education’s faculty in 1989, he has served on 51 doctoral committees and chaired to completion the dissertations of 50 doctoral students. Five of his students have won dissertations of the year awards from different academic organizations.

His mentees have gone on to become university professors, a president of a community college, the head of an overseas school and directors of national educational organizations.

“Craig Wood is still my mentor,” a former student, Carlee Escue Simon, wrote the selection committee in a nomination letter. She is now an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati. “I call him for advice on teaching, research, service and navigating the academic world. My association with Craig opened doors that I never anticipated.”

Another mentee, Jeffrey Maiden, now a professor at Oklahoma University, wrote: “Simply having been his student brings automatic respect from scholars in the field.”

Wood guides doctoral students in the specialty of education finance, an area of growing importance as the public, school boards and elected officials try to balance how to best fund quality public education.

“These are not esoteric or philosophical issues. But they are real,” Wood said. “Education is one of the most costly investments a society can make.”

Wood sets high expectations for his students, and he enjoys helping polish the work of talented young scholars.

Wood said his approach is to work one-on-one with his doctoral students to provide them not only research skills but with writing and speaking opportunities to compete in the national job market.

This kind of work is not usually very visible. So the mentoring award is fresh evidence that Wood is making an impact.

“It’s nice to be recognized for doing your job,” Wood said.

A university-wide, eight-member committee of faculty members, a graduate student, department chairs, college deans, and high-level administrators selects winners for the mentorship honor.

The award provides faculty members $3,000 and an additional $1,000 in department accounts for use in supporting doctoral students.

Writer: Charles Boisseau, 352-273-4137
Media Liaison/Director of News and Communications: Larry Lansford, 352-273-4137