NEW BRITAIN, Conn. – A new dean, with leadership and research experience at two Connecticut public universities, will head the School of Education and Professional Studies at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) beginning July 1.
Michael P. Alfano, Ph.D., chair and professor of the Department of Special Education and Reading at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, will replace Mitchell Sakofs, Ph.D., who is leaving to become dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Programs at Wheelock College in Boston, Mass.
“Having worked at both UConn and Southern, Dr. Alfano brings the kind of experience and perspective that will be extremely helpful in positioning CCSU at the forefront of teacher education reform in our state,” says Carl R. Lovitt, CCSU’s provost and vice president for academic affairs.
“We are also excited about working with him to articulate a unified vision for the School, develop new programs — especially at the graduate level — and to identify opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration among faculty and programs,” Lovitt adds.
The School of Education and Professional Studies encompasses 80 full-time faculty and staff and eight academic departments. In addition to Teacher Education, Special Education, Reading & Language Arts, and Educational Leadership & Educational Technology, the School also houses the departments of: Nursing, Counseling & Family Therapy, Social Work, and Physical Education & Human Performance.
Alfano will be taking the helm of a School with many distinguished professors, including Connecticut’s 2011 Education Leader of the Year, Anthony Rigazio-Digilio, professor and chairman of the Department of Educational Leadership. The School also boasts a legacy of alumni who consistently win accolades for their work at the district, state and national levels; one of the most recent being New Britain High School Principal Michael Foran who was named the 2013 MetLife/NASSP National High School Principal of the Year and Hartford fifth-grade teacher Tamika Knight who won the 2012-2013 Milken Educator Award.
“It is an honor to have the opportunity to serve as the Dean of the School of Education and Professional Studies at CCSU, which has a long, successful history in preparing professionals in both the education and human services fields,” says Alfano, who earned a B.S. from Southern, his M.Ed. from DePaul University, and a Ph.D. from UConn.
“I am very much looking forward to working closely with faculty, staff, and the University to guide the growth of the School for the future,” he adds.
Alfano, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, began his career in education teaching children with a variety of exceptionalities, including individuals with autism spectrum disorders.
After successfully pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with a concentration in Special Education, he was hired as an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at UConn’s Neag School of Education. In 2004, he was named director of the graduate teacher preparation program and is credited with increasing enrollment and expanding the program. In 2011, Alfano was promoted to executive director of the Neag School’s nationally ranked teacher preparation programs.
In addition to teacher education, Alfano’s research focus and areas of expertise include special education, learning disabilities, assessment, and reading education. He has published widely on those topics.