New School of Education director excited to have positive impact on educators

Susan Faircloth
Susan Faircloth, Director, School of Education, Colorado State University

The School of Education recently welcomed its new director, Susan C. Faircloth. Faircloth comes to Colorado State University from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where she was a professor of educational leadership.

An enrolled member of the Coharie Tribe, Faircloth’s research interests focus on Indigenous education, the education of culturally and linguistically diverse students with special educational needs, and the moral and ethical dimensions of school leadership. She recently celebrated the release of her co-authored publication, Radical collegiality through student voice: Educational experience, policy, and practice, which draws on a collaborative research project in New Zealand.

In the Q&A below, Faircloth shares how she hopes to create impact at CSU through her work with the School of Education.

What are you most excited about regarding your new role, not only at the School of Education, but as a leader in general?

I have been fortunate to have worked with a number of individuals who believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself, and who encouraged me to pursue my passions and to do work that is both personally and professionally rewarding.

As the director of the School of Education, I have a unique opportunity to do the same for other faculty, staff and students – to support them in doing the types of work that they are most passionate about and the types of work that are critical to promoting the educational and life success of children, youth, and adults. I can’t think of anything more exciting!

Colorado State University School of Education director Susan Faircloth and faculty during the school's Fall 2018 faculty and staff retreat.

You have a background that encompasses various aspects of education – counseling, special education, higher education leadership, etc. How has this helped you in your short time at the School of Education?

Great question! I like to joke that I have just enough coursework in counseling to make me dangerous. In reality, I think that I have a natural inclination to ask probing questions and to think deeply about individuals’ responses to these questions. I ask questions because I really want to know what people are thinking and feeling, and I want to be responsive to their thoughts and feelings. I believe these are traits of a good counselor and a good leader.

My special education training has prepared me to deal with a number of challenging and difficult situations without being easily overwhelmed. Although I earned a doctoral degree in educational administration (i.e., leadership), most of what I know about leadership has come from my practical and professional experience on the ground in higher education settings – as an academic skills coordinator with a Trio program, as the director of policy analysis and research with tribally controlled colleges and universities, as the director of a leadership development program for American Indian and Alaska Native students, and as a faculty member. Each of these experiences has challenged me to think critically about who I am, what I value, and how I want to live out my personal and professional life.

How do you anticipate putting that experience to work in the future?

I hope that I will never forget that I am first, and foremost, a faculty member and a colleague. This means that each decision I make takes into consideration how this decision may impact the faculty, staff, and students within the school. This helps to keep me grounded and connected. I am also mindful of the fact that the work that we do impacts children, youth, and adults. I take this work seriously because I know firsthand the impact that education has had on my own life – the doors that it has opened and the opportunities it has created.

Susan Faircloth speaking
Colorado State University School of Education director Susan Faircloth answers questions during the school's Fall 2018 faculty and staff retreat.

What excites you about the potential impact you might make at CSU?

I am excited about the opportunity to help raise the profile of the School of Education, and to actively promote and tell the story of the great work that our faculty, staff, and students are doing. I want others to get excited about the work that we are doing, and to support and invest in this work so that we can continue to grow and flourish.

What have been your favorite courses/subjects to teach?

I most enjoy teaching doctoral-level classes, particularly proposal-development courses in which students are challenged to think about their research questions and research design. I love watching individuals transition from viewing themselves as students to viewing themselves as scholars. I also enjoy teaching diversity-focused courses for aspiring school leaders.

Please share your research focus.

Most of my research focuses on the education of American Indian children and youth. I am particularly interested in their educational experiences and subsequent educational outcomes.

Colorado State University School of Education director Susan Faircloth addressing the schools' faculty and staff during their Fall 2018 retreat.

You’ve been in Fort Collins for almost three months. What do you like about living here?

How friendly most people are, the beauty of the area, the way in which our neighbors have welcomed and embraced our family, and hearing my husband comment on the way I smile when I talk about the School of Education at the end of each day.

What do you do for fun?

Garden, bake, shop at yard sales and thrift stores (I love a bargain!), spend time with family (including our two dogs, Prince and Teddy, and cat, Jessi), and travel.

The School of Education is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.