After a national search, UNC Greensboro (UNCG) is pleased to announce that Dr. Maria Pitre-Martin will become the next executive director of the UNCG SERVE Center.
SERVE provides research, evaluation, and customized support to clients in North Carolina and across the nation in pursuit of positive educational outcomes for all learners. With $30 million in active funding and well over $200 million in contracts and grants over three decades, SERVE is the largest center at UNCG, and one of the oldest.
“Ensuring high quality support for students and educators is my passion,” said Pitre-Martin. “I am excited to join SERVE and work with its many partners to continue to find innovative ways to approach educational practices and policies.”
At the federal level, SERVE manages the US Department of Education (USED) National Center for Homeless Education and USED’s Region 6 Comprehensive Center, which provides evidence-based support and services to K-12 education systems in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. The center also holds a USED Coordinating Teaching and Learning in Migrant Communities technology grant, and it previously successfully managed the US Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences’ Regional Educational Laboratory for the Southeast for over 20 years.
Center efforts include everything from large-scale experimental studies to small-scale qualitative work on topics ranging from early childhood to high school reform. SERVE conducts project evaluations for states, districts, schools, and organizations and synthesizes education research, with a specialty in making complex topics accessible. In 2022, the Early College Research Center launched within SERVE, building on nearly two decades of UNCG research on early college outcomes and a national reputation for expertise in the field.
Incoming director Pitre-Martin has an extensive history of education leadership both within and outside North Carolina. She currently serves as director of board operations and policy for the NC State Board of Education and NC Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI). Prior to that, she served as NCDPI’s deputy state superintendent and chief academic and digital officer, superintendent of Thomasville City Schools, and state director of K-12 curriculum and instruction and regional lead supervisor for NCDPI.
“We are indeed fortunate to have such a transformational leader as Dr. Pitre-Martin join the University,” commented Terri Shelton, Vice Chancellor of Research and Engagement. “The depth and breadth of her experience, her track record of collaborative and transparent problem-solving, and her commitment to ensuring equitable educational outcomes for all learners not only here in North Carolina but across the country is exactly what is needed to lead SERVE into its next era of impact via translational research and technical assistance.”
Outside of North Carolina, Pitre-Martin has held positions as superintendent of Petersburg City Public Schools in Virginia, chief academic officer for the School District of Philadelphia, and assistant superintendent for the East Baton Rouge Parish School System in Louisiana. She also served as the director of research and staff development for the Fort Bend Independent School District in Sugar Land, Texas, and the principal of Oakwood Intermediate School in College Station, Texas. In 2002, Pitre-Martin, who holds a doctorate in educational administration and a masters in organizational communication, was the Texas Middle School Principal of the Year.