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Photo of Smylie, Mark

Mark Smylie, PhD

Professor Emeritus


Dr. Smylie began his career in education as a high school social studies teacher. Following his doctoral studies, he joined the College of Education faculty in 1986 as Assistant Professor in Curriculum and Instruction and retired in 2013 as Professor Emeritus in Educational Policy Studies. Dr. Smylie served as EDPS Department Chair, Director of Graduate Studies, and PhD Program Coordinator. He served on the College of Education’s Executive Committee, Educational Program and Policy Committee, and Human Subjects Review Committee. At the campus level, he served on the Graduate College Executive Committee, the Senate Committee on Educational Policy, and the Campus Research Board.

Dr. Smylie taught graduate-level courses in leadership and organization theory; change and school improvement; and research design and methodology. For many years he led an introductory seminar for new PhD students and an informal study and support group for students engaged in dissertation research. Dr. Smylie was program advisor to numerous masters and doctoral-level students, chairing nearly 40 PhD dissertation and EdD capstone committees, and sitting as a member of more than 50 additional dissertation and capstone committees. He worked with department faculty to revise the PhD program in Educational Policy Studies and develop the EdD program in Urban Educational Leadership.

Dr. Smylie’s research focused on educational leadership and school improvement, with an emphasis on urban contexts. He published 85 books, journal articles, and book chapters. His work appears in the American Education Research Journal, Educational Researcher, Educational Administration Quarterly, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Educational Policy, Journal of School Leadership, and Review of Research in Education. He authored and co-authored numerous policy briefs, technical reports, and bulletins for the National Policy Board for Educational Administration, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Education Association, and the Consortium for Chicago School Research, among other organizations.

Dr. Smylie was a Director of the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago, and Secretary-Treasurer and Board member of the National Society for the Study of Education, bringing the then 100-year-old organization to UIC from the University of Chicago. He was Secretary and Executive Committee member of Division A of AERA and a Residential Fellow at the Spencer Foundation. Dr. Smylie was awarded a National Academy of Education Postdoctoral Fellowship, the William J. Davis Award from the University Council for Educational Administration, and the American Educational Research Association’s Research Review Award. He shared with UIC colleagues a special merit award for action research from the Institute for Educational Research. Dr. Smylie served on

editorial boards of the leading scholarly journals of his field. He maintained close relationships with schools and school districts through consultancies and collaborative research and development projects, and he advised regional and national professional educational organizations.



1986 – PhD, Peabody College, Vanderbilt University, Educational Leadership

1977 – MEd, Duke University, Secondary Social Studies Education

1976 – AB, Duke University, History


Professional Activity as Professor Emeritus

Since retiring from EDPS in 2013, Dr. Smylie served for seven years as Visiting Professor in the Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University, teaching leadership for educational equity in its EdD program of advanced professional study for educational leaders. Through the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), he helped to develop the national Professional Standards for Educational Leaders 2015 (PSEL), co-chairing the committee that finalized the standards. Dr. Smylie then worked with the National Policy Board for Educational Administration (NPBEA) and CCSSO to bring these standards to life through state policy and school leader preparation and development. He consulted for several years with the Tucson Unified School District on equity-oriented continuous school improvement as part of the district’s effort to achieve unitary status and end its decades-long federal school desegregation litigation. Dr. Smylie continued his research and writing, most recently co-authoring three books and related works on the theory, practice, and development of caring in educational practice and school leadership, and co-authoring works for the NPBEA on PSEL and the practice of equity-oriented school leadership.


Selected Recent Publications

Bailes, L. & Smylie, M. A. (2023). The practice of PSEL through the prism of Equity Standard 3. Reston, VA: National Policy Board for Educational Administration.

Smylie, M. A., & Murphy, J. (2021). Caring in crisis: Stories to guide and inspire school leaders. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Smylie, M. A., Murphy, J., & Louis, K. S (2021). Stories of caring school leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Murphy, J., Louis, K. S., & Smylie, M. A. (2021). Positive school leadership behaviors: A synthesis of research. In W. Pink (Ed.), Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Smylie, M. A., Murphy, J., & Louis, K. S. (2020). Caring school leadership. Thousand

Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Smylie, M. A., & Eckert, J. (2018). Beyond superheroes and advocacy: The pathway of teacher leadership development. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 46(4), 556-577.

Smylie, M. A., & Murphy, J. (2018). School leader standards from ISLLC to PSEL: Notes on their development and the work ahead. UCEA Review, 59(3), 24-28.

Meyers, C., & Smylie, M. A. (2017). The myths of school turnaround policy and practice. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 16(3), 502-523.

Smylie, M. A. (2016). Three organizational lessons for school district improvement. In A. J. Daly & K. S. Finnigan (Eds.), Thinking systemically: Improving districts under pressure (pp. 209-219). Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association.

Smylie, M. A. (2010). Continuous school improvement. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.


For Fun
Mark is a proud grandfather of five. He is an active member of his church choir and a local community chorus, and he aspires to renew some of his long-lost ability to play the piano. Mark enjoys long road trips to US national parks and regularly takes biking and hiking trips abroad. He continues to pursue his long-standing interests in cooking and photography.