USF Names New School of Education Dean

Shabnam Koirala-Azad has been named the new dean of the School of Education at the University of San Francisco following a nationwide search.

Koirala-Azad had served as interim dean since January. She started teaching at USF 12 years ago and was promoted to associate dean and then interim dean. As a faculty member, she expanded the comparative and global studies dimension to the school, and served as the department chair of the Department of International and Multicultural Education. She also co-founded USF's master's program and doctoral concentration in Human Rights Education - the first ever in the country.

In addition, she secured almost $400,000 for scholarships and helped to create a new need-based scholarship program that tripled support for students over three years.

Koirala-Azad's scholarship and passion for education center on the connection between education and social change. She is inspired to build on the school's legacy of training excellent social justice scholars and practitioners.

"Our work is especially significant in this moment," Koirala-Azad said. "At a time of division, fragmentation, and attacks on the very communities we seek to serve, the School of Education stands strong in its vision of promoting equity, unity, and cohesion. We choose to align ourselves with the forces of integration. Our work is cut out for us, and our legacy and proven record of enhancing educational justice provides us with a solid footing from which to build further."

Koirala-Azad was chosen from more than 30 applicants after a nationwide search, said Shirley McGuire, USF senior vice provost and chair of the committee that oversaw the dean's hiring.

"Dr. Koirala-Azad is a widely respected international, multicultural, and human rights educator and researcher," McGuire said. "She is intelligent, wise, and approachable - characteristics that students, alumni, faculty, and staff reported they wanted to see in their new dean in surveys conducted during the process."

Another thing that stood out about Koirala-Azad was her ability to be decisive while at the same time listening to all sides of an issue, McGuire said.

"We learned that she is a spiritual person. She takes the Jesuit idea of being men and women for others very seriously, and embraces and promotes that trait in others," McGuire said.

A USF Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Award winner, Koirala-Azad has a doctorate in social and cultural studies in education from UC Berkeley. Her scholarship makes significant contributions to three areas of study:

  • international and comparative education, where she is credited for introducing critical perspectives and alternative research paradigms and challenging the "imperialist tendencies" of the field;
  • migration and diaspora studies, where she has made significant advances in cross-border collaborations for social change; and
  • alternative research paradigms, where her work on participatory research has given her national and international prominence as a scholar.

She has published dozens of articles and continues to give numerous talks nationally and internationally on these topics. She has been a longstanding member of scholarly communities like the Comparative International Education Society, the American Educational Research Association, and the Council on Anthropology and Education. She also serves on numerous boards and supports a number of local organizations and initiatives, including the local Baha'i faith community.

(From: University of San Francisco)

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