HomeAbout UsMission


The Center for Urban Education Leadership (CUEL) seeks to impact issues of equity for PK-12 students through research, development, and policy advocacy. We investigate and act upon both leadership-focused and multi-disciplinary, leadership-inclusive problems to generate knowledge. We design, test, and enact learning designs to develop leaders and their organizations. Our work occurs locally, nationally, and globally. We accomplish these outcomes by applying our expertise in the areas of educational leadership, organizational development, equity/social justice, and continuous improvement/improvement science as we collaborate with other researchers and practitioners. The CUEL is housed in UIC’s College of Education (COE) in Chicago, IL. Given our location in one of the world’s great/global cities, a portion of our work seeks to directly impact the City of Chicago and learn from research into its “grand challenges” to incubate solutions portable to other urban settings throughout the world.

Our Work within the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC): The CUEL is housed in the UIC College of Education, and it is closely affiliated with the college’s nationally recognized Department of Educational Policy Studies and Ed.D. program in Urban Educational Leadership. The center’s ongoing support of this doctoral-level leadership preparation program’s continuous improvement has led to the design/enactment of a preparation program identified as “exemplary” by the University Council for Educational Administration–one of just seven to receive this designation as of 2024. This program has also been recognized for its program quality by an assortment of other national organizations such as the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the George W. Bush Institute’s Alliance to Reform Educational Leadership (AREL). In this way, CUEL researches and incubates leadership preparation practices that can be ported to other settings.

CUEL Local Work: During 2019-2020, CUEL formalized a research practice partnership with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) called C2 for “CPS-CUEL.”  This partnership is designed to identify areas where new knowledge is essential to pressing CPS problems and use the partnership to generate and support the utilization of such knowledge within CPS.  Learn more about our C2 research practice partnership here.

CUEL National Work: The CUEL partners or works with other research centers and institutions as well as a variety of national educational organizations, state and regional departments of education, school districts and schools, community organizations, and university-based educational leadership preparation programs. Learn more about our national work here.

CUEL International Work: The CUEL engages in international work with a variety of educational organizations. CUEL supports national policy and infrastructure development as mechanisms for strengthening school leader development in the Global South and MENA regions. Learn more about the international work of CUEL and CUEL affiliates here.