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Consortia Split Federal Grant To Run Center

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Washington--In an unprecedented move, the Education Department has split a grant to operate a research center on school leadership between two university-led consortia.

Harvard University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are the flagship universities in what will be two research centers studying leadership practices that foster improved teaching, school discipline, and student achievement.

The decision to divide the award came after the department's grants and contracts office objected to some of the procedures used by the original review panel and ordered that a new panel be convened, according to Sally Kilgore, former director of research in the department's office of educational research and improvement.

The first panel had chosen Harvard University as the grant recipient, but the second panel chose the University of Illinois, Ms. Kilgore said.

Ms. Kilgore left o.e.r.i. before the final decision was made in late December, but Conrad Katzenmeyer, acting director of the schools and school professionals division of the office of research said that splitting the grant "was a mutually agreed-upon decision" between the grants and contracts service and the o.e.r.i.

In all, there were five applicants for the research-center grant, according to a source in the o.e.r.i.

Finn Said No Factor

The Harvard Center for School Leadership will work with Vanderbilt University, the University of Chicago, and the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, N.C., to identify effective leaders in education and examine what they do.

Chester E. Finn Jr., former assistant secretary for educational research and improvement, came to that post from Vanderbilt University. In October, he rejoined the Vanderbilt faculty, serving in its Washington office as a professor of education and public policy and director of the Educational Excellence Network

Mr. Katzenmeyer stressed, however, that Mr. Finn was not involved in the grants competition or in the project. "Once we knew that Vanderbilt would be submitting an application, [Mr. Finn] clearly took himself out of the process," he said.

The University of Illinois Center for Research and Development on School Leadership will collaborate with the University of Michigan and MetriTech Inc. to study the effects of different leadership styles on student achievement.

Each consortium will receive an annual grant of $500,000 for five years.

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