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College of Urban Education
Meeting the Needs of Urban School Districts, One Educator at a Time.

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The College of Urban Education (CUE) prepares and develops education practitioners in real world settings to meet the educational demands of urban environments. Graduates demonstrate the skills to create holistic learning opportunities in urban settings that facilitate student success. CUE develops programs that are innovative and responsive to the needs of urban school districts. The College of Urban Education envisions teachers, education leaders and systems that sustain equity, creativity and opportunity for urban communities.

Urban Education at Davenport

Students describe the Davenport Urban Education Program.

Urban Education
Teacher with a group of African American students in the library.
Program Information
A team of national experts designed this innovative program around the unique needs of students in urban classrooms. It is built to prepare a diverse cohort of prospective educators to bring equity, creativity, and opportunity for urban communities. 
 Student reading from a paper while standing at a chalkboard.
About the College of Urban Education and Student Resources

Davenport University’s Urban Education programs prepare and develop educators in real world settings to meet the education demands of urban environments. Why would you choose Davenport's program over another institution? We have the answer to these and other questions.

Lecturing in a classroom with other people.

Davenport University partners with school systems and community organizations to provide real-world opportunities for training urban educators.

  Michigan Education Corps

 National Heritage Academies


Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
Nelson Mandela
Why Urban Education?
Woman in a classroom smiling and looking at the audience.
Teaching in Urban Settings
Is a teaching degree in Urban Education for you?
You have the opportunity to be part of a program that can change lives – that trains teachers to be the best of the best --Teachers  that  can ensure students in urban schools reach  their maximum learning potential.
The Master of Urban Education degree is centered on developing key skills that will:
  • Uniquely prepare you as a dynamic and effective teacher.
  • Assist you in sustaining relationships with students, teachers and families encouraging career longevity.
  • Create a strong foundation of leadership to impact your school and colleagues

Advancing beyond traditional curriculums, this program will immerse you in the actual

clinical setting from the start.
  • Pre-Service teachers will be mentored by a proven effective teacher from the program’s inception.
  • Pre-service and In- service candidates will be observed weekly and receive real-time feedback on their teaching practice
  • All candidates will participate in service learning opportunities designed to augment their classroom teaching experience.

Because of our unique partnership with placement schools, you’ll enjoy more opportunities to practice critical skills in a real world setting. The Master of Urban Education degree is intentionally separated from the teaching certificate. This allows faculty to award the certificate based on demonstrated quality teaching.


Group of young, elementary students working at their classroom desk.
We are a game changer!
Clearly focusing on the needs of Urban Communities.

By 2050 most of the world’s population will live in urban areas. Davenport’s slogan is “Get where the world is going.” The College of Urban Education is simply living out that mission.

Urban communities must count on schools and colleges to build the capacity of its residents through education. Simultaneously, these communities must see educational institutions in cities as some of its most important assets. Schools and universities must train people well enough to hire them later. Urban districts are currently realizing what happens when its most talented graduates do not refresh their former system. Schools offer opportunities for intellectual and economic enrichment. Education’s intellectual and economic impacts both must occur in our cities if we want to students in urban school systems advance.

Our master’s program is a game changer because we strategically plan enrollments to address partnership district needs. The program gives candidates more time in the actual school setting to develop 21st century skills as well as the relationships that facilitate learning. University faculty are embedded at the school site to provide feedback and support. Candidates are given the technological tools to improve instruction.  The curriculum is tied to student outcome data and is assessed by its ability to increase student learning.



Several people at a table listening to a lecture in a classroom.
Inspiration, Leadership and Transformation
How will we accomplish this task?


The idea of a new college – the Davenport University College of Urban Education began as an innovative response to the national and state-level calls for change in teacher preparation and Michigan’s need for effective teachers in low-performing schools. Davenport University launched the College of Urban Education in 2013. It continues to grow as a collaborative effort throughout Michigan – and beyond.


Our program architects, considered the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Clinical Preparation and Partnerships prepared by NCATE and released in the report, Transforming Teacher Education through Clinical Practice: A National Strategy to Prepare Effective Teachers for Improved Student Learning in 2010.

The panel studied "the gap between how teachers are prepared and what schools need." Its findings identified key design principles and strategies to revolutionize teacher education. Because we focus on applying these principles exclusively in urban settings DU’s  College of Urban Education’s is taking the lead in preparing effective urban educators. We accomplish this through creating innovative programs as well as forming  key partnerships with urban school districts.


Davenport University College of Urban Education degree programs:

  • Transform urban education, by revolutionizing how we prepare teachers to educate.
  • Forge strategic partnerships between urban schools and Davenport University.
  • Forms of team highly effective urban educators with teaching candidates in the classroom.
  • Tracking data for the continuous improvement of processes to ensure dynamic, outcomes-based results.
  • Prepare teachers who are capable of helping urban students succeed.
Photo of Yamaka Bracey
Yamaka Bracey
"I have grown so much because Davenport makes my learning real and relevant. It is something I can apply right now. The expectations are rigorous yet, meaningful, through exploration I have found and analyze some of my deepest thoughts. These classes have open a world full of known and unknown and have encouraged me to want more, learn more, and be more. At the end of the day, I want to go home and into the the world and apply what I have learned and through this program I have done just that. I have elevated to places that I know I couldn't be without the knowledge and experience that I got from this program. Words truly cannot express my gratitude".
Photo of Daniel Morse
Daniel Morse
"Having personalized attention through the College of Urban Education has been amazing. Having high quality instructors come into my classroom and give me weekly feedback based on those observations, has really helped me reflect on my practice and grow my pedagogy!"
Photo of Whitley Morse
Whitley Morse
"Davenport's College of Urban Education has given me the skills necessary to make the transition from the classroom to administration. This Master's program has provided me with the tools and self-confidence to become a leader within my building".
Photo of Arnaldo Melendez
Arnaldo Melendez
"Since I began the program in 2015, my knowledge and expertise in the education area has grown and allowed me to become a well respected leader within the school district as well as within my community. I especially appreciate the program's success in reaching multiple disciplines , allowing graduate students to learn from each other and their perspective grade levels represented. I also appreciated the diversity and expertise of the professors. I am fortunate to have made the decision to attend Davenport's College of Urban Education."
Photo of Meaghan Polega
Meaghan Polega
"This program has helped to make me the teacher I am today. I have learned how to better relate to my students and to their communities. Additionally, the research experience I have had through the program has been essential to help me grow as a professional and an educational researcher".
Photo of Sarah Rosema
Sarah Rosema
"This program has helped me grow professionally and personally. I am able to have discussions about difficult topics that pertain to my every day life. I am able to collaborate with colleagues from around the district at all different levels. This program has provided me with an extra family".
Photo of Jose Marquez
Jose Marquez
"The best part of the Urban Ed program were the professors and the support they provide me with. They understood that my 4th graders came first and were flexible and willing to work with my busy schedule in order to make the program work for me. The classes were extremely relevant to my teaching and the content was immediately applicable in my classroom."
Photo of Megan Persons
Megan Persons
"The College of Urban Education has provided me with an incredible opportunity to grow as a person and as a professional. The coursework marries theory and application in a way that allows teachers to develop their skills in real world ways, and the program pivots on the values most important to the urban arena: equity, innovation, and opportunity. As a result of my participation in the program, I feel more inspired, and more able, to serve my students".
Make a Difference in Urban Education

Davenport University’s Master of Urban Education program prepares and develops teachers in real world settings to meet the education demands of urban environments. This innovative teacher-training program focuses on student learning, prepares content experts in clinical settings and measures progress based on data.

Global News in Urban Education
Dr. Susan Gunn, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Urban Education
Warren, Lettinga

Dr. Susan Gunn is currently Dean of the College of Urban Education at Davenport University in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Prior to this appointment she held the dual position of Associate Dean of the College of Urban Education and Science Department Chair in Davenport’s College of Arts and Science. Dr. Gunn possesses a B.S. in Education and a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Michigan. Dr. Gunn has extensive experience in program and curriculum development, faculty recruitment, mentoring, supervision, strategic planning, evaluation, research, fiscal monitoring and budget management. At Davenport, she has created several certificate and degree programs including the Bachelor of Science Degree in Biological Laboratory Sciences, the Certificate in Urban Education, and the Certificate and Master’s degree in Urban Educational Leadership.  Additionally, she has developed STEM-based community outreach academic summer camps and afterschool programs. Dr. Gunn has extensive teaching experience which covers a broad range from high school to college to medical school programs. One of her focused interests is to help develop well-trained STEM educators who can impart the importance of science to PK-12 students. Dr. Gunn is passionate about urban education, having been herself a product of Detroit Public Schools. Dr. Gunn often stresses her passion for helping students of color and other marginalized youth to obtain a quality, college/career-ready education, which is critical for success in the 21st century.

Rajah E. Smart, Ed.D.
Department Chair, College of Urban Education

Rajah E. Smart is currently Department Chair of the College of Urban Education at Davenport University (DU) in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Before his work with DU, Mr. Smart was an education consultant with the Michigan Department of Education working and collaborating with higher education institutions in accreditation, program approval, certification, as well as supporting school districts across the state of Michigan.  With over 20 years in urban education and a product of Flint Community Schools, his experience as a teacher, school administrator, and trainer provides him the context to be passionate about education for all students. That passion has also helped him write seven fictional novels that focus on social context and publishing a research study focusing on his interest in resource allocation practices in schools.  Mr. Smart is currently in the dissertation phase to earn his doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Michigan with a focus on resource allocation practices and student performance. For questions, please contact

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