GAINESVILLE, Florida  – F. Chris Curran, associate professor of educational leadership and policy, has been named a recipient of the National Academy of Education and Spencer Foundation’s Postdoctoral Fellowship for the 2019 year.

This fellowship is one of the highest honors for those early in their career in higher education. Prior to Curran’s award, only one other University of Florida faculty member, Damon Clark, assistant professor in the department of economics from 2005-2011, had received this award.

The research that Curran is conducting during the fellowship focuses on the consequences of exclusionary discipline, such as suspensions, on students. It is seen that students who have been suspended are less likely to attend college but the exact reasons for this is currently unknown.

“Nationally, around three quarters of universities ask prospective students about their disciplinary history,” Curran said. “Given evidence of the inequitable use of exclusionary practices like suspension in high school, this seemingly small question on a university application may have major implications for students’ educational trajectories and for promoting diversity in higher education.”

Curran’s study will assess how university applications that ask about prior school discipline can impact college acceptances. The study will examine data collected on the historical use of discipline boxes in college applications to assess its impact on disciplined students’ likelihood to apply, be accepted at, and receive financial aid at institutions of higher education.

“I am excited to have the support of the National Academy of Education and the Spencer Foundation to systematically examine the impacts of the disciplinary box on students’ college going,” Curran said. “This work stands to contribute to ongoing policy discussions around the use of disciplinary history in college applications.”

While attending UF for his undergraduate degrees, a one credit UFTeach course sparked Curran’s interest in teaching. Curran became a middle school science teacher and department chair, before returning to graduate school. He received his doctorate in Leadership and Policy Studies from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University in 2015.

Curran was an assistant professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County School of Public Policy, teaching courses such as the Social Context of Education and Evaluation of Educational Interventions, before his return to UF.

Curran’s body of research focuses on issues of equity in education with a particular focus on the ways that school discipline and safety contribute to racial disparities in educational outcomes.

“Our aim is to attract top faculty for our students and Dr. Curran is among the best,” Dean Glenn Good said. “We are enthusiastic about Dr. Curran’s work and the recognition he has received, and we are delighted to welcome him home to the University of Florida!”

As recipient of the NAEd Postdoctoral Fellowship, Curran will receive $70 thousand to support his research and will teach half-time for the next two years.

F. Christopher Curran

F. Chris Curran