New Faculty Profile: Dr. Ernest Morrell ☆

Dr. Ernest Morrell’s move from California to New York signals an exciting addition to both Teachers College and the Institute for Urban and Minority Education (IUME). Both are pleased to welcome Dr. Morrell, who is taking on a faculty position in the English Education program, as well as the role of director of the IUME. Coming to us from the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA, Dr. Morrell brings with him a wealth of teaching and leadership experience, as well as a passion for literacy and urban youth.

With a PhD in language, literacy, and culture from Berkley, Dr. Morrell has spent years teaching high school English and coaching in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, as well as teaching in the English Education program at UCLA. At Michigan State, Dr. Morrell was the director of the Secondary English Education program, before returning to UCLA and heading up the Urban Schooling Division as well as the Ed Studies minor program for undergraduates. Additionally, he worked to support high school literacy instruction, cultural studies, and civic involvement as Associate Director of the Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access (IDEA). Because of his work with IDEA, centered around community engagement and educational justice, the prospect of working with another institute was very appealing for Dr. Morrell, and he is pleased to take on this new role as IUME director here in New York.

Dr. Morrell is enthusiastic about the engagement of young people with literacy and believes that working with the IUME will put him in a position to positively impact students and educators through encouraging powerful teaching and learning. “I want to fundamentally change the way we think about young people, particularly young people that have been historically marginalized. I want to offer very powerful models of effective classroom learning. That requires a lot of work in communities, inside of classrooms and schools, and figuring out effective ways of sharing what we know with multiple publics, including policy makers, parents and community members, classroom teachers, school administrators, and the larger public.”

Because TC is committed not only to research, but to the education of teachers and what happens in the classroom, Dr. Morrell is confident that his role here and with the Institute will help him expand on some of these ideas about powerful teaching and learning, working towards achieving his goal of rethinking and reforming education to make it a more equitable, just, and humane process for a larger percent of our population.

In addition to leading IUME and joining TC’s faculty, where he will be teaching the Politics of Teaching English and doing doctoral and EdM advising, another draw for Dr. Morrell to this position was the location. “To have the opportunity to be in New York, to be close to a neighborhood such as Harlem that’s so historic and connotative in many ways, with its literary history, its activism history, its tie to African American history, are all really huge draws.”

When Dr. Morrell is not rethinking education and advocating for children, he enjoys writing, including not just his academic writing, but poetry and plays. He also coaches football, basketball, and track, dabbles in politics, and spends time with his family.

Dr. Morrell also enjoys working collaboratively with colleagues and students, and believes it is the most powerful way to build community. He looks forward to making connections with his students and creating lifelong mentoring relationships, which he enjoys with his mentors. “It all comes down, for me, to the development of human capital. I think the most important thing I do is teach. There’s the administrative part and the research part of what I do, but the teaching is the most important thing. As educators, we’re in the human capital business, and that’s the most important currency you can develop.”