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Chicago educator named new director of University High School

Craig Chamberlain, Education Editor
(217) 333-2894;


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Kathleen Moroney Patton, the dean of academic affairs and assistant principal at Hales Franciscan High School in Chicago, has been named the new principal and director of University Laboratory High School, the laboratory school of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Patton is scheduled to begin work at Uni High on Aug. 16. She succeeds John Hedeman, who is resigning to take a position with the university’s College of Business.

"Kathleen Patton comes to the position with extensive administrative experience, having worked in a variety of educational settings, grappling with a wide range of challenges" said Richard Herman, the provost at Illinois. "She brings a passion for her work that will be contagious throughout the Uni community, and I am sure she will quickly establish a solid rapport with teachers and students."

Patton was one of three finalists for the position who were brought to campus to meet with teachers, staff, students, parents and university administrators. Feedback from those meetings weighed heavily in the search committee’s recommendation of Patton for the position, Herman said. The search committee also noted her experience working with diverse populations of academically talented students and in collaborative team teaching, he said.

Patton earned a bachelor’s degree in English in 1983 from Northeastern Illinois University, and followed that with two years of graduate work at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In 1992, she earned a master’s degree in English from Saint Xavier University, and in 1996 earned a master’s in educational administration from Governors State University. She is working toward a doctorate in educational organization and leadership at Illinois.

Patton formally began her high school teaching career in 1986 as an English instructor at St. Joseph High School in Chicago, where she taught for five years before moving to Crete-Monee High School, in Crete, in 1991. After seven years of teaching there, she served one year as the school’s dean of students, then two years as assistant principal.

In 2000, she took an administrative position at Bremen High School in Midlothian, then one year later moved into her current position at Hales Franciscan High School. For five months in 2002, she also served as the school’s interim principal.

University Laboratory High School was established in 1921 and serves as a site for curriculum research while providing a model college-preparatory program for academically gifted students. The school counts three Nobel Prize winners and a Pulitzer Prize winner among its alumni.

Twice in recent years, its graduating class has achieved the highest average composite score in the nation on the ACT exam, among U.S. high schools with 30 or more students from that class taking the exam.

Students at Uni take a five-year accelerated high school curriculum that begins with the subfreshman year, a combined seventh- and eighth-grade experience thought to be the oldest gifted education experiment in the country.

As a laboratory school, Uni is a public school eligible for state aid, but because its enrollment is not determined by residence, the school does not receive any local property- or corporate-tax support. Additional funds are provided by parents, alumni and friends, as well as from corporate sources and grants.

The school’s normal enrollment is about 300 students.