parkerma1_web.jpgMichele Parker Selected for Ambassador’s Distinguished Scholars Program in Ethiopia

Michele Parker, a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at the Watson College, has been selected for the Ambassador’s Distinguished Scholars Program in Ethiopia. During the 2018-19 academic year, which begins in October, she will serve as a full-time member of the teaching faculty at the University of Gondar. She will have opportunities to engage in primary research, mentor students, and collaborate with faculty.

Expanding higher education is a priority of the Ethiopian government. In 2000, Ethiopia had two universities. Now they have 36, with 11 more scheduled to open within five years. The Ambassador’s Distinguished Scholars Program was created to attract foreign faculty, especially American scholars, to help support this rapid growth.

The goal of the program is to strengthen Ethiopian universities’ capacity to teach and manage undergraduate and graduate programs, and enhance their research capacity. The U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia, Bahir Dar University, the University of Gondar and the Institute of International Education support the Ambassador’s Program. Parker will join the second cohort of 30 Ambassador’s Distinguished Scholars in Ethiopia.


Parker joined the Educational Leadership faculty at the Watson College in 2008 after earning her doctorate in research, statistics and evaluation from the University of Virginia. She led the development of WCE’s masters and doctoral specializations in higher education and served as interim associate director of UNCW’s Center for Teaching Excellence from 2014-2015. Her work on numerous UNCW committees includes serving as a member of the strategic planning workgroup integration team as well as the High Impact Practices Taskforce. She is also affiliate faculty for the UNCW Social Applied Research Center.

Parker teamed with Heidi Higgins, now chair of WCE’s Department of Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle, Literacy and Special Education, to lead field experiences to Ethiopia in 2015 and 2017, as part of an international studies program offered by the Watson College. In addition, Parker has provided workshops for Ph.D. candidates at Addis Ababa University and served as an external advisor for five Ethiopian Ph.D. candidates.

Parker said she is looking forward to exploring a new area of Ethiopia and applying her years of experience. “Most of all, I am excited to learn, lead and contribute to efforts underway to strengthen education programs in Ethiopia.”