Walsh University Partners with Stark County ESC to Create Leadership Pipeline

Walsh University has partnered with the Stark County Educational Service Center (ESC) to address an anticipated leadership void in K-12 public education by creating a Master of Business Administration (MBA) specialization in School District Leadership. This newly designed master’s degree will prepare future administrators, while improving succession and leadership planning.

“Replenishing the leadership pipeline takes time,” said Dr. Mike Dunphy, Vice President for Academic Affairs at Walsh University. “With the imminent turnover of superintendents and other school district executives in the next five to ten years, we’re averting a potential crisis by being intentional and creating a professional development opportunity today for our leaders of tomorrow.”

The new MBA specialization in School District Leadership will be offered at Walsh University in a hybrid format with a combination of in-person sessions, augmented with online content, customized case studies, and more. This specialized program is unique because it incorporates three courses from Walsh’s master's in education curriculum and an additional experiential learning co-op to improve the leadership skills of future public-school leaders. The program merges best practices in business with K-12 educational best practices to create future leaders to fill opportunities for business managers, treasurers, and others, while even beginning the process to become a superintendent. An added benefit of the new concentration is that the courses will meet the certification criteria for a school district treasurer or business manager.

Walsh University and the Stark County ESC collaborated for several months to create this unique MBA opportunity.

"Partnering with Walsh University on this specialized MBA program can be a transformative process for our local and regional school districts to identify future leaders and develop those leaders,” said Joe Chaddock, Superintendent of the Stark County Educational Service Center. "This collaboration illustrates a forward-thinking approach to nurture future leaders within our educational community and provide them with skills and knowledge to excel in their roles. Walsh University’s curriculum, tailored to educational leadership, shows its commitment to excellence in this field. We are proud to partner with the university's leadership team to create a substantive educational MBA for tomorrow's leaders."


The program was designed by Dr. James Falter, Director of Graduate Programs and Associate Professor in the DeVille School of Business at Walsh University. He has experience creating several graduate and undergraduate programs. As Graduate Director, he oversees the MBA programs at Walsh University, a role he has held for three years. Five years ago, he spearheaded an entire curriculum re-development to update undergraduate programs while maintaining the lead faculty role for the finance program. Though the MBA specialization in School District Leadership was designed at the request of Stark County schools, it is open to all school districts in the region.

“Walsh University is filling a community need by creating a flexible, market-based MBA that has the foundation of a traditional MBA,” said Dr. Falter. “This unique concentration maintains the breadth and depth of the MBA with the added benefit of a hybrid program that focuses on executive leadership development in our regional school districts.”

Classes begin in July 2023. It will take participants two full years going part-time. They will take some courses online and meet in person on Thursday evenings, with the first cohort planned to graduate in the summer of 2025. For more information, or to enroll, contact Dr. Falter at

Read coverage in Crain's Cleveland Business Magazine