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Scholarship and Community Work

Introducing Dr. Sabrina Zirkel, the newly named Dean of SCU’s School of Education and Counseling Psychology.

Santa Clara University is pleased to announce that Dr. Sabrina Zirkel, Associate Dean of Education at Mills College, will be appointed Dean of Santa Clara’s School of Education and Counseling Psychology, effective June 1, 2016. Zirkel will provide overall academic, administrative, and financial leadership for the School. She will report directly to Dr. Dennis Jacobs, University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

A well-established scholar who studies race, ethnicity, gender, and class across all sectors of education, Zirkel is the Abbie Valley Professor of Educational Leadership at Mills College. She has extensive administrative experience at Mills College, serving as Associate Dean in the School of Education as well as Director of the Educational Leadership program and the Ed.D. program. Most recently, in her role as Chair of the Faculty Executive Committee, Zirkel worked with the senior leadership at Mills to develop a number of innovative, interdisciplinary programs that engage students while serving the needs of the College and the local community.

“Santa Clara faculty showed a passion for ensuring that graduates of the School of Education and Counseling Psychology are well prepared to make a difference in their communities as outstanding counselors, educators, and leaders,” said Zirkel. “I am especially looking forward to working with faculty to build on the current efforts of Santa Clara University and the School of Education and Counseling Psychology in the Thriving Neighbors Initiative and the School’s campus in East San Jose.”  

As demonstrated through her scholarship and community work, Zirkel possesses a deep commitment to issues of diversity, justice, and inclusion. She serves as an advisor to the African American Regional Educational Alliance (AAREA) and to STEM STEPS, programs that seek to improve the educational experiences of African American students in the East Bay.  

“Dr. Zirkel comes to Santa Clara with an impressive record in curricular innovation, faculty development, and student engagement,” said Santa Clara University President Michael E. Engh, S.J. “Our School of Education and Counseling Psychology prepares leaders to serve the education and mental health needs of Silicon Valley. Dr. Zirkel’s experiences coupled with her passion for promoting educational equity will be a significant benefit to the school and the community.”

Zirkel will succeed Dr. Carol Ann Gittens, a professor of liberal studies, who is currently serving as interim dean for the 2015–16 academic year.

Zirkel earned her bachelor’s degree with high honors in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1986 and her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Michigan in 1991. She was a psychology professor at College of the Holy Cross, a Jesuit institution similar to Santa Clara University, from 1991-1994 and served as a visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Research Institute for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity.

Zirkel is married with three children. Her husband, Christopher Simon, serves as a Director in the Human Resources department at the University of California, Office of the President.

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