Board of Education selects Terry Walker to serve as IUSD’s next superintendent

Following a comprehensive search process, the Irvine Unified School District Board of Education has selected Terry Walker to serve as the next superintendent of schools.

Walker, a veteran educator who has earned distinction as IUSD’s assistant superintendent in charge of Human Resources, will take on the role of schools chief effective July 1. He succeeds Dr. Gwen Gross, who in December announced plans to retire at the end of the current school year.

“I am incredibly grateful to the Board of Education for the opportunity to serve this world-class school system,” Walker said. “Most of all, I look forward to engaging in a meaningful dialog with staff members, students, parents and other key stakeholders as we chart our course for the future.”

After vetting a number of talented candidates with the assistance of a premiere leadership search firm, Board members made the selection Thursday and announced their decision this morning. Walker will become the seventh superintendent in the history of IUSD, which was established in 1972.

“Terry Walker possesses the broadest of skill sets along with an intellectual curiosity that is unmatched, making him the ideal choice to lead this district in 2011 and beyond,” said Sue Kuwabara, president of the IUSD Board of Education. “As anyone who works with Terry already knows, he is a visionary leader and an extremely gifted communicator who seeks input and vigorously examines every issue and all possible outcomes.”

“The challenges we face in public education are great, and they require even greater leadership,” Kuwabara added. “We are proud to have selected Terry Walker to build on this district’s storied history of academic excellence.”

Before joining IUSD, Walker honed his business skills as a commercial real estate broker for two firms, negotiating scores of lease, sale and investment transactions over a six-year span.

Yet education would prove to be his true calling, and in 1997 he began his teaching career at Santiago Hills Elementary School, where he taught Alternative Program for Academically Accelerated Students (APAAS) courses and ultimately earned the honor of Teacher of the Year.

Walker was tapped to become director of Human Resources in 2003, and four years later he was promoted to assistant superintendent. In the latter role he combined the most effective principles of interest-based bargaining to establish the district’s current system of “mutualistic” negotiations. This strategy has set a standard for collaborative labor negotiations by focusing on common objectives, even during the most challenging budget years.

Walker, 43, has a master’s degree in Education Administration Leadership from Pepperdine University and a master’s degree in Educational Technology Leadership from the University of California, Irvine. He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

A resident of San Juan Capistrano, Walker is married with four children, ages 10, 8, 5 and 3.