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Noelle Arnold

Associate Dean -EDGE, Equity and Diversity
Associate Professor, Department of Educational Studies

Program Area: Educational Administration

(614) 247-1553

Personal Website


Noelle Witherspoon Arnold is an associate professor and the director of the EdD in Educational Administration program in the Department of Educational Studies. A former administrator at the district and state level, she has served as a consultant for National Public Radio and throughout the United States advising districts in school improvement, culture and race mediation, STEM leadership for education and teaching and leading in urban and rural contexts. She is currently president of the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) and the first African American female to serve in this capacity for UCEA.

Arnold has more than 40 publications and her articles have appeared in leading educational journals, including the Teachers College Record, International Journal of Leadership in Education, The Journal of Negro Education, International Journal of Educational Reform and the Journal of Educational Administration. She has nine books published or in-press including most recently the Handbook of Urban Educational Leadership. Arnold serves as the series editor of New Directions in Educational Leadership.

Arnold is currently conducting two studies on student health disparities and the role of leadership in school/community-based health clinics and educational leadership in crisis and disaster areas.


  • PhD, Educational Administration, University of Alabama

Research Interests

Research Summary

Arnold's scholarly contributions reflect her background as an educational leader with a strong emphasis on values and beliefs, qualitative research, social justice and leadership advocacy. Her research deconstructs normed epistemologies, descriptors, articulations, enactments and intersectionalities of educational leadership and policy. In addition, she teaches, writes and works with emerging methods in qualitative research, particularly in the area of auto/biographical and narrative research. The following three statements frame my research and scholarly accomplishments:

  1. Traditional educational leadership and policy research has ignored certain epistemological and ontological frames such as race, culture, gender and belief. Leaders’ and policymakers’ values and beliefs influence their vision of organizations as well as their behaviors. Their interpretation of that belief or activity is of primary importance.
  2. Social justice, equity, care and advocacy have been the subject of some research. However there is still little exploration of the origin or motivation for these leadership nor policy orientations.
  3. New forms of research, methods and texts should be promoted to gain a more full-bodied understanding of the field and one that seeks to better understand the individuals engaging in leadership and policymaking.

Current Projects

  • Educational policy and analysis: Health policy and youth and crisis and disaster policy in schools
  • Intersectionalities and leadership. Gender Entrapment and Black principals
  • Social justice, care, equity and advocacy. Educational leaders mediating inequities in schools and communities
  • Alternative methodologies, methods, and frameworks. Critical geography and mapping leadership space
  • Principal-preparation, leadership socialization, practitioner outreach. The role of trauma and violence in leadership socialization; Critical field experiences for educational leaders; Culturally responsive supervision 


  • Associate professor, director of EdD in Educational Administration program, The Ohio State University (Current)
  • Affiliate Faculty Member, Black Studies, University of Missouri-Columbia, (2012-2015)
  • Program Coordinator of PK-12 Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, University of Missouri-Columbia (2012-2013)
  • Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, University of Missouri-Columbia (2010-2013)
  • Affiliate Faculty Member, Women and Gender Studies, Louisiana State University (2010)
  • Co-Coordinator for the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program, Louisana State University (2008-2009)
  • Assistant Professor, Louisiana State University, Educational Theory, Policy and Practice (2007-2010)


  • Nominee, Jack Culbertson Award, 2012, 2013 University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA)
  • Nominee, Division A Emerging Scholar Award, 2012, 2013 American Educational Research Association (AERA)
  • Outstanding Reviewer of the Year, 2009-2010, Journal of School Leadership

Selected Publications


  1. Khalifa, M., Witherspoon Arnold, N., Osanloo, A., & Grant, C. & (in press, publication date 2015). Handbook of Urban Educational Leadership. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
  2. Witherspoon Arnold, N. (2014). Ordinary theologies: Religio-spirituality and the leadership of Black female principals. New York, NY: Peter Lang.\
  3. Witherspoon Arnold, N. & Brooks, M., & Arnold, B. M. (2014). Critical perspectives on spirituality, religion, and African American education. Charlotte, NC: Information Age. 
  4. Brooks, J. S. & Witherspoon Arnold, N. (2013). Confronting racism in higher education: Problems and possibilities for fighting ignorance, bigotry and isolation. Charlotte, NC: Information Age.
  5. Brooks, J. S. & Witherspoon Arnold, N. (2013). Anti-Racist school leadership: Toward equity in education for America’s students. Charlotte, NC: Information Age.

Book Chapters

  1. Witherspoon Arnold, N. (in press). Culturally responsive supervision. In S. Zepeda & J. Glanz. In Re-examining Supervision: Theory and Practice(x-x). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
  2. *Douglas. T. M. O. & Witherspoon Arnold, N., & *Wilbon-White, T.  (2015). Crises, critical incidents and community and educational leadership. In M. Khalifa, Witherspoon Arnold, N., A. Osanloo, & C. Grant, Handbook of urban educational leadership (pp. 546-557). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
  3. Witherspoon Arnold, N. (2015). Psychological heuristics: Mental/emotional designs of Racial Battle Fatigue and faculty of color. In K. Fasching-Varner, K. Albert, R. Mitchell, C. M. Allen, & W. A. Smith (Eds.) Racial Battle Fatigue: Difference and Division in Higher Education (pp. 189-196) . Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
  4. Witherspoon Arnold, N. (2014). Gender entrapment and Black female principals. In W. Sherman Newcomb (Ed.) Women continuing to disrupt the (status?)quo (pp.137-153). Charlotte, NC: Information Age.
  5. Witherspoon Arnold, N. (2014). Thriving and Surviving”: Ferocious Resolve in Work and Life, In A. T. Cypres (Ed.), Ferocious Resolve: Everyday choices and leadership in The Academy. Charlotte, NC: Information Age.
  6. Witherspoon Arnold, N. (2014). Thoughts on narrative and researching religion and spirituality. In N. Witherspoon Arnold, M. Brooks, & B. Arnold (Eds.) Critical Perspectives of Black Education: Spirituality, Religion, and Social Justice (pp. 252-269). Charlotte, NC: Information Age.


  1. Khalifa, M., Osanloo, A., Witherspoon Arnold, N., & Sherman-Newcomb. (2015). Culturally responsive school-parent relations: The role of parent advocacy and voice. Phi Delta Kappan.
  2. Curry, J., Arbuthnot, K. & Witherspoon Arnold, N. (accepted, 2015). Graduate students' perceived preparation for working with client spirituality and religious values. Journal of Religion and Education.
  3. Douglas, T. M. O. & Witherspoon Arnold, N. (in press, 2015). Exposure in and out of school: A Black Bermudian male’s successful educational journey. Teachers College Press.
  4. Grant-Overton, C. & Witherspoon Arnold, N.  (in press). The Title I Program:  Fiscal Issues and Challenges. International Journal of Educational Reform.
  5. Khalifa, M. A., Bashir-Ali, K., Abdi, N. & Witherspoon Arnold, N. (2014). From post-colonial to neoliberal schooling in Somalia: The need for culturally relevant school leadership among Somaliland principals. Planning and Changing, 45(3/4), 235–260
  6. Katz-Buonincontro, J., Phillips, J. & Witherspoon Arnold, N., (accepted, 2015). Arts-based approaches to leadership preparation. Journal of School Leadership.
  7. Crawford, E., Witherspoon Arnold, N., & **Brown. A. (2014). From Pre-service leaders to advocacy leaders: Exploring intersections in standards for advocacy in educational leadership and school counseling. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 17(4), 481-502.
  8. Arnold, B. M., Mitchell, R. W., & Witherspoon Arnold, N. (in press, 2015). Massified illusions of difference: Photography and the mystique of the American Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Journal of American Studies of Turkey, 41, 93-118.
  9. Witherspoon Arnold, N. & *Crawford, E. R. (2014). Metaphors of leadership and spatialized practice. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 17(3) 257-285.
  10. (Quartile 2 SJR) Brooks, J. S. & Witherspoon Arnold, N., & Brooks, M.  (2013). Educational leadership and racism: A narrative inquiry into second-generation segregation. Teachers College Record, 15(11), 1-27.
  11. Crow, G., Witherspoon Arnold, N., Reed, C. & Shoho, A. (2012). The complexity of leveraging university program change. Journal of Research on Leadership Education, 7(2), 172-194.
  12. Witherspoon Arnold, N. & Brooks, J. S. (2012). Getting churched and being schooled: Life narratives and study of the principalship. Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership, 16(2), 44-53.
  13. Witherspoon, N. & Arnold, B. (2010). Pastoral Care: The culture of caring of Black female principals. Journal of Negro Education, 79(3), 220-232.
  14. Mitchell, R. W., Wood, G. K., & Witherspoon, N. (2010). Considering Race and Space: Mapping developmental approaches for providing culturally responsive service. Equity and Excellence in Education, 43(3), 294-309.
  15. Witherspoon, N. & Taylor, D. (2010). Spiritual W.E.A.P.O.N.S: Black female principals and religio-spirituality. Journal of Educational Administration and History, 42(2), 133-158.
  16. Witherspoon, N., & Mitchell, R. (2009). Critical Race Theory as ordinary theology in the practice of African American principals. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 22(6), 655-670.
  17. Newton, R. M., & Witherspoon, N. (2007) Recruiting teachers, principals and superintendents: A job choice theory perspective. Journal of Scholarship and Practice, 3(4), 37-41.

Selected Presentations

  1. Witherspoon Arnold, N. & Arnold, B. M. (2015). Human Rights Photography. Conference: Photography’s Shifting Terrain: Emerging Histories & New Practices. New York University Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, UAE 
  2. Witherspoon Arnold, N. (2013, April). Working the spirit: Narrating work and life. American Educational Research Association Annual Convention. San Francisco, CA.
  3. Witherspoon Arnold, N. (2013, April). Workshop.Using the arts to promote social justice & vision-building skills in school leaders. American Educational Research Association Annual Convention. San Francisco, CA.
  4. Witherspoon Arnold, N. & Douglas. T. M. O. (2013). Crises, critical incidents and community and educational leadership. American Educational Research Association Annual Convention. San Francisco, CA.
  5. Witherspoon Arnold, N. (2012, November). Advocacy matters: A day in the life of an urban principal. University Council of Educational Administration Annual Convention, Denver, CO.