Colorado State University gets new director for School of Education, George Kamberelis

Maddie Buxton

Photo credit: Colorado State University
George Kamberelis, Director of the School of Education (Photo Credit: Colorado State University)

From working at non-traditional schools to founding successful coffee shops, George Kamberelis has now found his place as director of the School of Education at Colorado State University.

Kamberelis officially began his role as professor and director on July 1, succeeding Interim Director Marlene Strathe, who had served in that role since Director Dan Robinson stepped down in December 2013, according to a press release.

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“I’ve always had an abiding investment in education,” Kamberelis said. “Education made a huge difference in my life, having grown up in a working-class family.”

Kamberelis made his way into higher education after teaching for a number of years and running small businesses. While living in Chicago and starting a family, he opened a European style espresso cafe to try to make extra money.

“I found a place to rent that was really inexpensive in an up-and-coming neighborhood and just gave it a try,” Kamberelis said. “It became almost an overnight success, I think we were turning a profit in the seventh month, which is really unusual for restaurants.”

Over the course of his career, Kamberelis has taught at entirely non-traditional schools, including a number of schools intended for gifted, but troubled children.

As a first-generation college graduate, Kamberelis has always been interested in education, satisfying both his practical nature and his desire for life of the mind.

“I was impressed with his vision and also impressed with the notion that he is practical and realistic,” said Mary Ontiveros, the vice president for diversity at CSU.

Ontiveros explained that Kamberelis has a genuine interest in advancing the diversity agenda at CSU and understands the big picture of education.

“It is nice to have someone who understands how everything is related,” Ontiveros said.

After teaching and running cafes, Kamberelis enrolled in an interdisciplinary program in language and cognition at Northwestern University and eventually completed his PhD at the University of Michigan. After that, he worked at a number of universities before ending up at the University of Wyoming before CSU.

“If I hadn’t done all those things, I’d never even apply for this position,” Kamberelis said.
He eventually applied to CSU when the spot opened up in 2013 because he was excited about the direction the University was headed.

“I think there are all kinds of opportunities for the school to grow and become more interesting and better than it is now,” Kamberelis said. “It’s also a better family move my wife and I like living here better than Laramie.”

Kamberelis explained that he was drawn to CSU because of the potential, history and commitment of the University administration to become better and better.

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His role as the director of the School of Education is a combination of leadership and administration.

“Already, I feel like people are willing to rally around some shared commitments and they appreciate that I am listening to what they see as the problems and trying to come up with productive ways to respond to those problems,” Kamberelis said.

Louise Jennings, professor in the School of Education, has known Kamberelis through education conferences and journal articles for many years. She noted his research and teaching background, as well as his observational and leadership skills.

“One of his greatest strengths is that he is a strong listener and a collaborative leader,” Jennings said.

Jennings said Kamberelis is helping the School of Education to “continue to develop a shared vision and build on our existing strengths.”

Kamberelis has many visions for CSU and is excited about moving forward.

“I’m most excited about helping faculty develop their talents in the most robust way possible, growing the school, both in terms of increased faculty and higher quality programming and making us run much more efficiently and effectively,” Kamberelis said.

Collegian Reporter Maddie Buxton can be reached at news@collegian.com and on Twitter @Madbuxx