Education Veteran to Head U.Va.'s Darden/Curry Partnership

April 5, 2007 -- A commissioner of the National Commission on No Child Left Behind has been named executive director of the Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education at the University of Virginia.

James L. Pughsley will head the organization, a unique partnership between the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business and the Curry School of Education. The partnership was formed to bring the most advanced thinking in business and education to meet the unique demands of managing and governing schools and school systems with a focus on accelerating student achievement.
The announcement was made by the deans of the two schools. Robert Bruner of the Darden School of Business and David Breneman of the Curry of Education said Pughsley is the transformational leader PLE was seeking.

“Jim’s record is impressive,” said Bruner. “We admire his quiet determination and humility. He is a quality leader.”

In 2002, Pughsley became superintendent of the nation’s 23rd largest school system, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg system in North Carolina. He made significant strides in improving the day-to-day operations and long-range vision for the system.

“Under Jim’s leadership, CMS initiated a strategic approach to doing business that led to a significant effect on student achievement and national recognition for the district,” said Breneman. “He led that system through a major turnaround.”

Pughsley has also worked in the Virginia Beach City Public Schools, Monroe City (La.) Schools, and the Clark County (Nev.) School District. An Arizona native, Pughsley earned his bachelor’s degree from Northern Arizona University and his master’s and doctorate from the University of Arizona.

“The goal of the PLE is to enhance leadership capacity in public school-related organizations,” said Pughsley. “We work to help them perform at higher levels whether those organizations are individual schools or school districts. I’m excited to be involved with this type of important work.”

The PLE has received national recognition for its School Turnaround Specialist Program.  Thanks to a $3 million grant from Microsoft’s Partners in Learning, the Turnaround Specialist Program now includes participants from Broward Country, Fla., Chicago, Philadelphia and Virginia, with further expansion expected this year. The PLE was also in the news last June when the Wallace Foundation awarded a grant of $5 million for up to five years to the Partnership. The grant helped create a training opportunity for senior teams of state and district education leaders.