Dr. Andre Perry, Founding Dean of Urban Education at Davenport University, started his journey at Allegheny in 1989. He credits its liberal arts education with providing him a foundation for success in becoming a public intellectual and expert in educational policy.
“Allegheny exposed me to multi-disciplinary knowledge in an intimate environment where I could question and be vulnerable. This foundation is essential if you want longevity in whatever field you are going into.”
Dr. Perry’s research and teaching interests are college access and retention, charter schools and immigrant educational rights. His experiences reflect this. For instance, he deems his time spent as camp counselor at Pennsylvania Student Leadership Institute, a college exposure camp at Allegheny dedicated to teaching college transition skills to the children of migrant workers, as “the most significant experience that shaped his entire career.”
Prior to and after earning his Ph.D. in Education Policy and Leadership from the University of Maryland-College Park, a series of jobs in higher education paved the way for where he is today. He became the Founding Dean of Urban Education at Davenport University in Grand Rapids, Michigan on July 1, 2013. Not only is Dr. Perry responsible for planning and launching Davenport’s new College of Urban Education, but he also serves as the chief architect and advocate for the College, building relationships within the University and collaborations with external constituencies in order to build a program that will be a pioneer in urban education. As the strategic leader of the College, he develops and implements a vision and a plan for the College of Urban Education as an innovative and dynamic new force in preparing teachers and leaders for success in urban schools.
He still relies on his ability to think, write and draw upon some of the questions that will always exist, those that he first wrestled with at Allegheny. “My ability to write was enhanced by Allegheny. It made me a more critical thinker. This enabled me to thrive in the education world…the profession changes so rapidly, you need to be able to move along with trends, demographic shifts, talk with different types of people, deal with diversity. If you are locked into teaching one way, one method, you won’t survive.”
His passion for the education he received is evident. “What is ultimately communicated from the teacher to a student is expertise. The goal should be to become an expert in a content area and then apply that knowledge in the teaching profession. Being a great teacher of leaders is not just about smartness or a finite set of skills. The ability to communicate your ideas to diverse audiences is equally as important. Allegheny helped me do that.”