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Riley Institute names new staff

The Riley Institute at Furman University has named new staff members for its Center for Education Policy and Leadership. Dr. Tracy Waters has joined the institute as assistant research director, Dr. David Fleming as senior researcher, and Alexis Sprogis as research specialist.

Says Don Gordon, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Riley Institute, “We are excited about the very strong research team we are building. Their skills and experiences will propel us forward in our commitment to help meet the tremendous need for more evidence-based information about promising education models and practices in South Carolina.”

The Riley Institute is conducting multi-year studies of public school Montessori, funded by the Self Family Foundation; the United Way of Greenville’s Middle Grades Initiative, backed by the federal Social Innovation Fund; and the Overcoming Obstacles Life Skills Program, supported by the Community for Education Foundation. It is also conducting research on New Tech schools and early college models in the state for the SC Education Oversight Committee. These projects will inform education policy and practice in South Carolina and add to the national research base. The Riley Institute’s new staff assignments will support these efforts.

Tracy Waters, sizedTracy Waters, Ph.D., Assistant Research Director
Dr. Tracy Waters manages the comprehensive evaluation of the Middle Grades Initiative, as a part of the Social Innovation Fund grant secured by the United Way of Greenville County. She received her B.A. from Central Michigan University and her Ph.D. from Clemson University, and has extensive experience in diverse nonprofits and education research and evaluation. Waters previously served as Research and Grants Manager for the United Way of Greenville County, and has helped plan and implement data collection for several research studies, among them, a National Institutes of Health-funded study on rural teen dating violence.

David Fleming, sizedDavid Fleming, Ph.D., Senior Researcher
Dr. David Fleming is assistant professor in the political science department at Furman, where he teaches classes in research methodology, American politics and public policy. At the Riley Institute, he is involved in program evaluation design and quantitative analysis. Currently, he is the project statistician for the Montessori, Overcoming Obstacles and Middle Grades research projects. As a senior research associate for the School Choice Demonstration Project, he participated in the state-authorized evaluation of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, the nation’s oldest and largest urban school voucher program. Fleming graduated magna cum laude from Notre Dame and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Alexis Sprogis, sizedAlexis Sprogis, Research Specialist
Alexis Sprogis joined the Riley team in 2008 and has now joined the staff of the Institute’s Center for Education Policy and Leadership as research specialist. She assists with data collection, instrument and report creation, research logistics, and database compilation associated with several research projects, including the South Carolina Public School Montessori study, the Overcoming Obstacles Life Skills Program evaluation, the education model evaluation funded by the Education Oversight Committee, and the Middle Grades initiative. She received a B.A. from Winthrop University in 2006 and is in the process of earning her M.A. at the University of Nebraska (Kearney).

For more information about the Riley Institute’s Center for Education Policy and Leadership, contact Jacki Martin, Director of Operations, Riley Institute (864) 294-3578, or jacki.martin@furman.edu.  Follow the Riley Institute on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or visit the website to learn more.

Last updated February 11, 2015
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Clinton Colmenares
News & Media Relations Director