Hiller A. Spires Named Executive Director of Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, Associate Dean

RALEIGH, North Carolina — Hiller A. Spires, Ph.D., will serve as executive director of the NC State College of Education’s William and Ida Friday Institute for Educational Innovation and associate dean, effective Wednesday, Nov. 20.

Hiller Spires
Hiller A. Spires, Ph.D.

Spires is Alumni Distinguished Graduate Professor of Literacy Education in the college’s Department of Teacher Education and Learning Sciences and a senior research fellow with the Friday Institute. She was also the founding director of the Friday Institute from 2002 to 2006 and later served as interim executive director from August 2018 to May 2019.

“Dr. Spires has a long, successful history with the Friday Institute and deep connections to schools, educators and students across North Carolina. She will provide the strategic leadership needed to ensure the Friday Institute is creating and driving successful responses to increase student success and maintains its presence as a go-to-resource for K-12 public schools in North Carolina,” said NC State College of Education Dean Mary Ann Danowitz.

As the executive director of the Friday Institute and an associate dean, Spires will provide strategic direction and leadership for growing the institute, including expanding and sustaining its success and operation in North Carolina and beyond as part of NC State’s College of Education.

“The staff and faculty of the Friday Institute possess a wealth of intelligence, creativity and passion — all harnessed to support educators and students across North Carolina,” Spires said. “Alongside our many partners, we will continue to work at the intersection of research, policy and practice to bring educational innovation to our state and beyond. I am honored to serve in this leadership role.”

Spires’ research, which has brought in approximately $11 million over the years, focuses on how teachers engage culturally and academically diverse students in disciplinary and digital literacies for deeper learning. As the founding director of the New Literacies Collaborative, she has conducted workshops with thousands of teachers across North Carolina, the nation and the world.

As part of her international work, she helped create a state-of-the-art school in Suzhou, China, and edited Digital Transformation and Innovation in Chinese Education, published by IGI Global. She was the invited editor for the special issue of the international Journal of Media and Communication, which focused on “Critical Perspectives on Digital Literacies: Creating a Path Forward.”

Currently, she and the New Literacies Collaborative team are working on North Carolina rural/urban school partnerships as they implement the NSF DRK-12 grant, Supporting Students’ Science Content Knowledge through Project-Based Inquiry (PBI) Global. Spires’ most recent book — Read, Write, and Inquire: Disciplinary Literacy for Grades 6-12 — was published this month by Teachers College Press.

“When we were first designing the Friday Institute, Mr. William Friday, the institute’s namesake and former UNC System President, often reminded us that ‘change is the only constant.’” Spires said. “The Friday Institute continues to embrace and lead educational change with the aim of all students being successful.”

Spires succeeds Carla C. Johnson, who stepped down as executive director of the Friday Institute and will serve as a professor of science education in the college’s Department of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education and as a senior faculty fellow with the Friday Institute.

Since joining NC State in 1987, Spires has received numerous awards and recognition, including NC State’s Alumni Distinguished Graduate Professor, Centennial Campus Partnership Award, Jackson A. Rigney International Service Award, and Gertrude Cox Award for Innovative Excellence in Teaching and Learning with Technology. She is a member of the Academy of Outstanding Faculty in Engagement and Extension, received a Change Leadership Fellowship from the Harvard Business School and a Leading Creatively Fellowship from the Center for Creative Leadership.

Spires received her Ph.D and Master of Arts in Literacy and English Education, respectively, from the University of South Carolina. Her Bachelor of Science in English Education is from Tennessee Temple University.

About the Friday Institute: Founded in 2005 as part of the NC State College of Education and located on NC State’s Centennial Campus adjacent to the Centennial Campus Middle School, the William and Ida Friday Institute for Educational Innovation advances K-12 education through innovation in teaching, learning and leadership by bringing together educational professionals, researchers, policy-makers and other community members. In addition to fostering collaborations to improve education, Friday Institute scholars and staff conduct rigorous and objective research and evaluation, develop educational resources, provide professional development programs for educators and help inform decision-making and policy related to educational matters. Over 100 faculty, staff and graduate students at the Friday Institute work across projects teams supported by over $17 million in grants, contracts, state funding and gifts.

Examples of Friday Institute initiatives over the last decade include: helping to develop North Carolina’s $400 million Race to the Top initiative and leading its evaluation; developing and leading the North Carolina K-12 Digital Learning Plan, North Carolina Digital Learning Initiative and the North Carolina Computer Science for All initiative; and developing and administering a suite of Massive Open Online Courses for Educators (MOOC-Eds) that have reached 35,000-plus educators in over 90 countries.