Denver Fowler: Setting Up Educational Leaders for Success
Dr. Denver Fowler has a long and quite impressive résumé of serving higher education that has just gotten even more so, after his appointment as department chair in the College of Education at Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU). From congressional recognition to state-wide awards, Denver is another example of a Madison resident excelling in public service.
Denver has specifically been named as to serve as the department chair within the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies within the School of Graduate and Professional Studies in the College of Education at SCSU. That department is responsible for preparing the next superintendents, principals, assistant principals, and athletic directors for their roles as administrators and leaders.
Denver’s accomplishments range from being named the State Assistant Principal of the Year in the state of Ohio and nominated for the National Assistant Principal of the Year in the United States for successfully leading a school turnaround initiative in which his school received all A’s on its state report card. He has served in numerous educational positions from Mississippi to Florida to California during his career.
He has also received Congressional recognition from the United States House of Representatives for his dedication and service to the pre-K to 12 educational setting and has spoken on Capitol Hill concerning bills supporting education.
Denver says that his educational experience was a major factor is his decision to devote his career to that field.
“I attended six different elementary schools in four different states (California, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas) by the time I was in 5th grade. When I think of my adolescent years, the individuals that had the most positive impact on my life aside from my mother and grandparents were my coaches, teachers, athletic directors, principals, and superintendents. Thus, as far back as I can remember, I wanted to become a teacher and coach, and I ended up serving as a teacher and coach for a long time,” says Denver. “From there, all of my other roles have naturally evolved from teaching and coaching.”
Denver has been a dedicated educator and coach since he began his career. The lessons learned from his childhood instilled not just a deep knowledge of education, but of what works and what doesn’t for students.
“In the pre-K to 12 educational setting, this included service as an athletic director, technology coordinator, and school administrator. In the higher education setting, this has included serving as an interim dean, department chair, doctoral program chair, graduate program coordinator, and adjunct/assistant/associate professor,” says Denver. “All said…I believe serving as an educator, regardless of the setting, be it pre-K to 12 or higher education, is the most important job in the world, and I have always wanted to be part of that, in some way, shape, or form.”
Denver’s recent appointment at SCSU is a critical one for students and for higher education in general. Shaping policy and helping educate and form the next generation of administrators is no easy task and one that’s vital to our country’s students and economy, says Denver.
The Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies “at Southern is charged with effectively preparing aspiring school administrators including, but not limited to, athletic directors, assistant principals, principals, and superintendents, namely in the state of Connecticut,” Denver says. “In addition, and perhaps worth mentioning here, some of our doctoral students aspire to serve as tenure-track professors in the higher education setting, where they, for the most part, will also prepare aspiring school administrators at universities and colleges across the nation or around the globe.”
Grooming the next generation of educational leaders is just as important as educating students, says Denver. Without clear goals and skilled leaders, educational reforms can be hampered before they even see public discussion.
“In short, for our students who are aspiring athletic directors, assistant principals, principals, and superintendents, our programs successfully prepare them to serve as school leaders. That is, upon graduating from our programs, we aim to ensure our students hit the ground running and fully understand how to effectively lead all stakeholders within the pre-K to 12 educational setting, including students, staff, parents, community members, and business owners,” says Denver.
Denver says his most important career achievement in general education was his ability to turn around schools that had reputations for unmotivated students and dismal test scores.
“In the pre-K to 12 educational setting, I would say my most important career achievement was successfully leading a school turnaround initiative in which our school building went from B’s, C’s, and D’s on our state report card to all A’s,” says Denver.
Denver lives with his wife, Anna, and his two boys Teagan and Beckett, in whom he tries to instill a well-rounded perspective.
“As for me and our family, the mantra is a stark reminder to stay curious in all things, be open-minded, and aim to be well-rounded in all that you do,” says Denver. “I always tell them, ‘Choose your friends, don’t let them choose you. No friends are better than bad friends. Don’t let anything be all you got. Stay well-rounded. Always have a plan, but do so with the understanding that you might have to be flexible in your approach.’”
Denver says that his time in higher education has brought him the most satisfaction and is still inspiring him to accomplish even more.
“In the higher education setting, I would say it has collectively been the opportunity to positively influence the field of educational leadership and policy studies through an array of initiatives tied directly to my teaching, research, service, and outreach. For example, in the higher education setting, I have published numerous books, chapters, journal articles, and articles in practitioner magazines. Likewise, I have presented in 20-plus U.S. states as well as in China, Africa, Greece, England, Turkey, Puerto Rico, Italy, [and] Spain and have future presentations this coming year scheduled in Egypt, Greece, Hawaii, and Colorado. As for a career goal, I am happy to be currently serving as a department chair and associate professor, with tenure, but when the time and opportunity is right, I believe the next step for me is dean. From there, who knows—provost, president, we’ll see.”