Christopher M. Span, received his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2001.  He is the Associate Dean for Academic Programs in the College of Education and  an Associate Professor in the Department of Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership (EPOL).  He is a former fellow in the CIC Academic Leadership Program; this program develops the leadership and managerial skills of faculty who have demonstrated exceptional ability and academic promise. He is the immediate past co-President of the Black Faculty and Academic Professional Alliances (BFAPA) and since 2011, he has been a faculty athletics representative (FAR) for the University of Illinois and Big Ten Conference. 

Key Professional Appointments

Associate Dean for Academic Programs College of Education, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2011 - present

Faculty Athletics Representative for the Big Ten Office of the Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2011 - present

Associate Professor Education Policy, Organization and Leadership, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, 2009 - present

Assistant Professor Educational Policy Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2003 - 2009

Assistant Professor Educational Leadership & Policy, State University of New York-Buffalo, 2001 - 2002

Assistant Professor History, Millikin University, 2000 - 2001

Teaching Assistant Educational Policy Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, 1998 - 1999


Ph.D., Educational Policy Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, 2001

M.A., Educational Policy Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, 1998

B.A., Liberal Arts and Sciences/ History, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, 1995

Awards, Honors, Associations

Vice President Division F (History), 2017-2019 American Educational Research Association (AERA), 2016 - 2016

CIC Academic Leadership Fellow—ALP (2010-2011). Committee on Institutional Cooperation, 2010 - 2011

Incomplete List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students, 2004 - 2011 Incomplete List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by their Students, 2003 - 2011

Difference Makers in Our Community Award eBlack Champaign-Urbana Campus Community Project, 2010 - 2010

Dean's Fellow, College of Education Dean's Cabinet, 2010 - 2010

Distinguished Scholar Award College of Education, 2009 - 2009

Participating Historian on the Brief of Historians as Amicus Curiae for the Supreme Court Parents and Meredith (2007) case NAACP Legal Defense Fund, 2007 - 2008

Black Graduate Student Association Faculty of the Year Award Black Graduate Student Association, 2007 - 2007

Outstanding Reviewer Award and Recognition for American Educational Research Association Journals AERA, 2006 - 2006

Research & Service

He is a historian of education in the department of Educational Policy Studies. His research interests primarily pertain to the educational history of 19th and 20th century African Americans and his scholarship is widely recognized in the varying fields in education. He is the author of From Cotton Field to Schoolhouse: African American Education in Mississippi, 1862-1875 (University of North Carolina Press, 2009), has published numerous articles and book chapters on the educational history of African Americans, and is a co-editor of the volume, Using Past as Prologue: Contemporary Perspectives on African American Educational History (Information Age Press, 2015).


Span, C., & Rivers, I. (2012). “Reassessing the Achievement Gap: An Intergenerational Comparison of African American Student Achievement before and after Compensatory Education and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Teachers College Record Online, 114 (6), 13-14.  link >

Span, C. (2009). From cotton field to schoolhouse: African American education in Mississippi, 1862-1875 Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.  link >

Danns, D., & Span, C. (2008). “A Brief History of Schools in the United States.”. 21st Century Education ( pp. 265-273). New York: Sage Publication.

Span, C. (2003). Knowledge is light, knowledge is power: African American education in antebellum America. Surmounting all odds: Education, opportunity, and society in the new millennium Greenwich, CT: Information Age.

Johnson, L., & Span, C. (2002). Historical perspectives on cultural empowerment, activism, and urban school reform. Urban Education, 37 (5),

Span, C. (2002). "I must learn now or not at all": Social and cultural capital in the earliest educational initiatives of Mississippi ex-slaves, 1862-1869. Journal of African American History, 87 (3), 196-205.

Span, C. (2002). Alternative pedagogy: The rise of the private Black academy in early postbellum Mississippi, 1862-1870. Chartered schools: Two hundred years of independent academies in the United States ( pp. 1727-1925). New York: Routledge Falmer.

Span, C. (2002). Educational and social reforms for African American juvenile delinquents in 19th century New York City and Philadelphia. Journal of Negro Education, 71 108-117.


“Public School in Mississippi during Reconstruction.” (2014). Schomburg Center, NYC: New York City.

“Addressing the Achievement Gap: Understanding Educational Inequality in American Education.” (2013). College of Charleston, Avery Center: Charleston, SC.

“Being Involved: Parental Involvement and the Educational Success of Children.” (2012). Washington Elementary School.

“Three Miles from Jerusalem: Nat Turner and his Impact on Black Education, 1831 – 1840.” (2011).: Richmond, VA.

“Diversity as a Way of Life and not a Concept: My Pursuits of Making Classroom Lectures and Discussion Diverse.” (2011). University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“Professor’s Expectations of Students.” (2011). Division of Intercollegiate Athletics.

“Diversifying the Ranks: A Mission and A Responsibility.” (2011). University of Illinois McNair Scholars Program: Allerton Park.

“The Road to Tenure: Achieving Tenure at a Research One University.” (2011). University of Illinois McNair Scholars Program: Allerton Park.

“Understanding and Interpreting History.” (2011). EPS 199 Ronald E: McNair Students.

‘Historical Examples of Parental Involvement,” (2011). Centennial High School NAAPID Day.

“Education in the African American Experience,” (2011).: Denison University.

A Passion for Justice: African American Female Teachers in Postbellum Mississippi, 1865-1875 (2003).: Chicago, IL.


Secretary, Division F (AERA) (2012-2014) AERA-Division F (History), AERA, 2012 - 2014

Co-Editor History of Education Quarterly, 2006 - 2013

Editorial Board, American Educational Research Journal-Social and Institutional Editorial Board, American Educational Research Journal-Social and Institutional Analysis, American Educational Research Journal, 2009 - 2012

Board Member Don Moyers' Boys and Girls Club, 2009 - 2010


Identity and Difference in Edu (EDUC 201) Focuses on the role of identity in schooling and the way in which identity is socially constructed. Examine how power and privilege impact equity and opportunities based on socially constructed identities such as race, social class, gender, sexual identity, language, (dis)ability, and nationalism. Explore asset-based frameworks that are identity affirming and counter deficit-based perspectives. This course is designed for students interested in reflecting on their own experiences as learners by critically examining their socially constructed identities and "ways of knowing" and the societal implications of these experiences. It is also for those considering careers in teaching, and anyone interested in reflecting on how issues of inclusion, exclusion, power, and privilege play out in education.This course satisfies the General Education Criteria for: Cultural Studies - US Minority.

History of American Education (EPS 400) Development of American education in relation to political, social, and cultural developments; attention to the influence of movements in the cultural environment upon evolving conceptions of educational theory and practice. 3 undergraduate hours. 2 or 4 graduate hours.

Span, Christopher

Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, College of Education



365 Education Building
1310 S. Sixth St.
Champaign, IL 61820

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