Catching Up with Dr. derria byrd

faculty-byrdDr. derria byrd joined the College of Education in the Fall of 2016 as an Assistant Professor in the Educational Policy and Leadership Department. Dr. byrd’s research interests include higher education, race, class and educational (in)equity, organizational culture and change, and Critical Theory. Read on to learn more about one of our newer faculty members!

derria byrd (db): I grew up in Buffalo, NY, and have moved around the U.S. quite bit since then, living in Boston, Oakland, and Madison, where I completed my doctoral degree. My husband, Roland, and I moved to Milwaukee from Missoula, MT, in August of 2016, and had a little one, Sula, join our family in January of this year. Although, I don’t have as much time to read as I used to, I am an avid fiction lover and fan of Toni Morrison and Nadine Gordimer’s work.

COED: What’s your favorite book?

db: My favorite novels include Song of Solomon, Invisible ManOne Hundred Years of Solitude,and Bel Canto. I am also eager to learn more about the history of (education in) Milwaukee. I recently read Matthew Desmond’s Evicted, and I’m eager to start Barbara Miner’s Lessons’ from the Heartland: A Turbulent Century of Public Education in an Iconic American City.

What is your favorite educational experience?

One of my most powerful educational experiences was as a graduate student in an Issues in Urban Education course taught by Dr. Michael Fultz at UW-Madison. Although I’d long had an interest in and commitment to education — I worked in educational nonprofits for nearly 10 years before graduate school — and had been thankful for the broad educational opportunities I’d had, it wasn’t until that course that I discovered how much educational policy, in particular, had shaped my educational trajectory and opportunities. Having been tracked, bused, labeled as “gifted and talented,” and graduating from a magnet school, the issues we discussed in that course made it clear to me not only that I had been an “ed policy baby” but also how the opportunities this afforded me were mirrored by the lack of opportunity faced by other students, including friends from my neighborhood growing up.

What do you see as an opportunity for the College of Education?

I am foremost excited about the College of Education’s work with future counselors, educators, administrators, and (higher) education professionals. Through our work with these students, we can have a significant impact on their commitment and preparation to work toward educational justice in a range of contexts. As such, the applied work being done across the College of Education can serve as models for the ways in which the resources of the academy can be brought to bear, through partnership and real-world awareness, on the most pressing problems of the wider community.

What drew you to Marquette and the College of Ed?

db: During my interview visit to Marquette, I was struck by the collegiality of the department, their shared committed to teaching and student development, and the opportunity to work in an environment that would support my efforts as a researcher, educator, and social justice advocate. In addition, Marquette’s stated commitment to social justice was an important factor in my decision to join the faculty here — and, in particular, my departmental colleagues’ attention to equity, which goes beyond a service orientation toward those who are less fortunate to questioning and changing the structures that continue to generate differential access, success and life chances. Finally, I was drawn to Milwaukee, a city with a dynamic and at-times troubling history, in which a range of community members and activists are committed to speaking up and creating positive change for the city.


Want to learn more about the College of Education? Visit us online today! And be sure to check out our ongoing series “Getting to Know…” all about our faculty and staff!

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