Educational Leadership Grad Finds Game Plan for Success

Educational Leadership Grad Finds Game Plan for Success

by Gail Allyn Short

 

E.-J.-BrophyUAB educational leadership alumnus E. J. Brophy, Ed.D., says that during his freshman and sophomore years of college, he cared more about improving his skills on the baseball field than in the classroom.

The Montgomery native first came to UAB in 1988 as a freshman on a baseball scholarship. He chose physical education as his major, was a catcher for the team, and dreamed of becoming a head coach, he says.

“I didn’t get the importance of academics until it was almost too late,” Brophy says. “I picked P.E. because I wanted to get into coaching. When I got into my junior year, my grades were not very impressive, but that’s when I realized that I could actually get a degree. It finally dawned on me in my early 20s that I could graduate and get the degree that my grandfather, a World War II veteran who graduated from the sixth grade, kept telling me was so important.”

Today, Brophy has maintained his interest in both sports and academics as the athletic director for the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). He says it is his doctorate in educational leadership from UAB that has helped prepare him for the demands of the job.

Following his epiphany in his junior year, Brophy says he became a more serious student. He took classes in health and skills development and studied methods for teaching children with disabilities. In addition, he says his professors taught him important life lessons.

“One thing that I will always remember about going to school at UAB was how professional and prepared and good all of the instructors were,” he says. “They led by example. They expected you to study. They expected you to dress appropriately and to be punctual.”

Brophy’s athletic career also flourished. He became an all-conference player. Then, during his senior year, the Philadelphia Phillies organization recruited him to play for its minor league team. Even with spring training and a heavy game schedule, Brophy says he managed to balance both school and professional baseball by taking one class at a time until he finished his undergraduate degree at UAB in 1995.

After four years in the minor leagues, Brophy says he once again aspired to become a college baseball coach. So in 1996, he worked as an assistant baseball coach at Samford University and at Wallace Community College. Two years later, in 1998, he landed an assistant coaching position at the University of Montevallo and completed the UAB Department of Human Studies’ master’s degree program in physical education.

“I felt that by getting the master’s degree, it would give me the best chance of becoming a head coach,” he says.
Then in 2003, the UAB Athletic Department hired him as the assistant director of athletic development. Eventually, the department promoted him to assistant athletic director for external affairs with responsibilities that included fund raising, managing the Blazer Club Scholarship Fund and donor affairs.

By then, with years of experience in coaching and sports administration behind him, Brophy set a new goal to become an athletic director. He knew, however, that he needed more education, he says. So, in 2004, he enrolled in the School of Education’s Educational Leadership doctoral program.

“It really fine tunes and hones your skills,” he says. “Things like planning, organizing, staffing and budgeting are extremely important when you’re in a position of leadership. You can’t fly by the seat of your pants. It just doesn’t work. For every moment you plan, it saves you 10 minutes when you’re getting ready to perform.

“Those are the things our instructors were so good at conveying to us,” he says, “the importance of preparation, our reporting structure, knowing the law, knowing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), knowing what you can and cannot do. All of those are tremendously important things.”

While studying in UAB’s Educational Leadership Program, Brophy’s career took off. In 2006, the University of West Alabama tapped him as its athletic director. Three years later, in 2009, he completed his doctorate at UAB. Then in 2011, he accepted the job as athletic director at UAH.

Today, Brophy is married to the former Cindy Wooten, who is a UAB early childhood education alumna. The couple has two children, Brooks, 15, and Bailey, 12.

As UAH’s athletic director, he is involved in everything from hiring coaches, fund raising and marketing to overseeing the construction of sports facilities, and says he is putting what he learned in his educational leadership courses into practice. But the part of the job he enjoys most, he says, is seeing young athletes winning not only on the field, but in the classroom as well.

“Without question, the most fun for me as athletic director is getting to see young people come to a school and trade their athletic prowess for a scholarship that puts them in a position where they can get their schooling paid for, graduate and see it change their lives forever,” he says, “where it puts them in a situation where they can get a good job, feed their families, enjoy life and become quality citizens.”

Discounted Tickets

UAB School of Education alumni receive a special discount on game tickets to the Homecoming Football Game on October 11. To order discounted tickets to the Homecoming Football Game on October 11:
  1. Visit the
  2. Enter promotional access code: EDUCATION  
  3. Select number of tickets, and then "Add to Cart"

Event details


  •  Blazer Village and Tailgate: 12-2 pm Saturday, Oct 11
  •  Legion Field gates open at 1:30 pm
  •  UAB Blazers take the field to faceoff with the North Texas Eagles at 2:30 pm

School of Education Homecoming Events

Homecoming Events

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Monday, October 6th

Free hot dogs in the park from 11-1 pm or until we run out!

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Friday, October 10th

Come out with fellow Blazers and watch the Homecoming Parade. Parade begins at noon in front of the School of Education Building. 

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Saturday, October 11th

The School of Education is a proud sponsor of the UAB Blazers and their Homecoming faceoff with the North Texas Eagles. 

UAB School of Education alumni receive a special discount on game tickets to the Homecoming Football Game on October 11. To order discounted tickets:

  1. Visit the ticket portal
  2. Enter promotional access code: EDUCATION  
  3. Select number of tickets, and then "Add to Cart"
  • Blazer Village and Tailgate: 12-2 pm
  • Legion Field gates open at 1:30 pm
  • UAB Blazers take the field to faceoff with the North Texas Eagles at 2:30 pm
 

Creating a Learning Community

Creating a Learning Community

New Collaborative Partners SOE with Birmingham City Schools

cityschoolspartnershipUAB has long been committed to solving the unique educational challenges that exist in urban school systems. To that end, the UAB School of Education has joined with Birmingham City Schools to announce its Innovative Learning Collaborative—a partnership between faculty and students and Birmingham teachers, principals and the school system’s upper administration to form a learning community that improves education and benefits for students and all involved entities.

The participating schools are Glen Iris Elementary and EPIC Elementary. Both are located adjacent to UAB’s campus and, because of existing partnerships and proximity, are ideal for the initial collaboration, says Lynn Kirkland, Ed.D., chair of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

“I am hoping that we are able to create an atmosphere where excellence is the norm for students, teachers and the university,” says Michael Wilson, Ph.D., principal of Glen Iris.

“The collaboration between these entities is not new,” says Vicki Stokes, Ed.D., principal of EPIC. “We have worked together for many years. The difference is that there will be a more defined purpose and planning, such that the relationship and its benefits will last for years to come.”

The components include hands-on, in-classroom training for School of Education students, tools and resources for Birmingham schoolteachers and principals, collaborations among the groups to provide community education that include literacy efforts and partnerships to apply for funding for various initiatives such as innovative after-school programing. The partnership will also generate collaborative research that will provide instructional strategies that can be used in urban education.

Wilson and members of his staff, as well as Stokes and her administration, have been meeting regularly with UAB faculty to create a partnership they hope will make an impact.

“The collaboration between these entities is not new,” says Vicki Stokes, Ed.D., principal of EPIC. “We have worked together for many years. The difference is that there will be a more defined purpose and planning, such that the relationship and its benefits will last for years to come.”

“They are invested as much as we are,” says Deborah Voltz, Ed.D., dean of the School of Education. “We all have skin in the game.”

This past summer, the group acquired a memorandum of understanding signed by the Birmingham Board of Education. Craig Witherspoon, Ed.D., superintendent for Birmingham City Schools, says he hopes this initiative will become a district model.

“For the past few years, we’ve established and nurtured professional learning communities within our schools,” Witherspoon reports. “This partnership allows us to expand that concept and, not only broaden our base of knowledge and professional network, but also create additional opportunities for collaborative learning.”

Ultimately, the goal is to expand into the schools into which Glen Iris and EPIC feed, being there to assist students as they progress throughout their educational careers. “We are spending all the time we need to make this right,” Kirkland says. “Next is middle school, then high school. We want to help them feel as though we are with them every step of the way.”

Another expected outcome is highly trained teachers who have relationships with potential employers, as well as creating a UAB presence in the classrooms that could inspire students to consider attending UAB.

“When you think about recruitment, the students will have seen us all along,” Kirkland said. “Then they will want to come to UAB.”

Voltz is excited about that. “It does take a village to prepare a teacher and train a child,” she says. “We want to help to infuse new energy into the P-12 schools.”