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Cecilia Rios-Aguilar, Todd Franke Take on New Roles As Department Chairs at the UCLA School of Education and Information Studies

By John McDonald
Cecilia Rios-Aguilar and Todd Franke headshots

The new school year will bring changes in key leadership posts.

Cecilia Rios- Aguilar, Professor of Education and Associate Dean of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at the UCLA School of Education and Information Studies has been appointed Chair of the Department of Education.  

Todd Franke, Professor of Social Welfare at the Luskin School of Public Affairs, will become the Interim Chair of the Department of Information Studies.

Franke takes on his new responsibilities effective July 1. Rios-Aguilar will assume her new post beginning September 1. 

“I greatly appreciate Todd and Cecilia agreeing to take on these important roles.” said Christina Christie, Wasserman Dean of the UCLA School of Education and Information Studies.  “I am certain they both will be inclusive, collaborative and effective leaders and I look forward to partnering with them as they take the helm of their respective departments.”

Professor Franke has 29 years of experience conducting cross-sectional and longitudinal research in a variety of interconnected fields focused on youth and families including child welfare, education, juvenile justice, mental health and adolescent violence. His expertise includes psychometrics and data analysis (multivariate, predictive analytics, machine learning), data visualization, and linking large existing datasets together for the social good.   Franke has worked on multiple levels examining the child welfare system and the related systems involved in the lives of children and families, including health, mental health, juvenile justice, education, housing), workers and worker training. His research has received over $120 million dollars in funding. He recently completed a study examining the link between children in out-of-home care and early childhood education through a project funded by the Administration for Children and Families. 

Professor Franke also works with the UCLA Prevention Center of Excellence around trauma informed practice/training, and oversees the training provided to all new and current staff at the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services as well as the cross-training beginning to occur between county agencies and for service providers and families. He is currently engaged in several projects focused on community policing and mentoring for foster youth.  He is a founding member of the Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families and serves as the Chair of the North General Institutional Review Board (NGIRB). 

As a professor of education, Rios-Aguilar's work focuses on improving the educational and occupational trajectories of underrepresented and marginalized groups of students. She has done extensive research on issues confronting community colleges and the students they serve.  Rios- Aguilar also currently the Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at the UCLA School of Education and Information Studies.

Professor Rios-Aguilar also serves as a faculty co-director of Policy Analysis of California Education (PACE), and is a board member of the Spencer Foundation. She is also a research affiliate of Wheelhouse: The Center for the Community College Leadership and Research at UC Davis. Previously, Rios-Aguilar served as the director of the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. She was recently appointed to California’s newly created Associate Degree for Transfer Intersegmental Implementation Committee by California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.

Franke assumes the chair of Information Studies from Professor Michelle Caswell, who had led the department over the past year.  Rios-Aguilar takes over the post of Education Department chair from Professor Megan Franke who has served as chair since 2020. A new Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion will be appointed to replace Rios-Aguilar in that role later this summer. 

“I am incredibly grateful to our outgoing department chairs,” Christie said. “They have led their departments during what can only be described as the most extraordinary of times, yet both programs have emerged stronger and more robust than when they began. Michelle and Megan have always brought remarkable creative thinking, flexibility, and dedication to the School of Education and Information Studies, and we have been fortunate to have had them in these leadership roles.”