A+ honor: Dallas public school names new building in honor of business professor Dr. Charlene Conner

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Dr. Charlene Conner School of Business

Few people can boast of having a school named in their honor. UNT Dallas School of Business professor Charlene Conner will be able to do just that when the new University Method of Education (UME) Preparatory Academy Dr. Charlene Conner Learning Center opens its doors this fall.

The K-12 school located on Spur 408 in Dallas, will recognize Conner’s dedication and service with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 6 p.m. on Friday, August 16. The 62,000-square-foot Dr. Charlene Conner Learning Center will house grades 7-12.

More than 50 private University Method schools are open across the United States, but UME Preparatory Academy is the first public charter UME school in existence.

UME Prep dedicated the new building to Conner because of her work on the school’s board and helping to turn the academy around when it was in financial distress. Conner worked tirelessly to plan and prepare the charter in 2010. The charter was approved by the Texas Education Agency in the spring of 2012 and UME Prep opened its doors that fall.

Conner has continued to serve on the board as vice president and a key decision-maker, helping UME Prep earn an “A” rating from the TEA last year and a TEA rating of “100” for financial viability.

One of Conner’s pivotal actions came during the school’s difficult inaugural year. When a school administrator resigned, she recruited Mike Spurlock to accept an interim position. He was later tapped as superintendent, leading a successful growth period. He now serves as the school’s CEO.

“I consider my role small -- being in the right place at the right time, and seeing the talent of this board member,” Conner said. “Obviously, at first, there were many ‘drive-to-work-conversations,’ but as we continue to grow in the community, we want to retain academic and financial excellence.”

Conner is a Lecturer in Marketing and cross-disciplined in Management at UNT Dallas’ School of Business. She serves as OB/HR Assessment Coordinator and is active in UNT Dallas’ SHRM student chapter. She previously served as dean of the College of Business at Dallas Baptist University and Parker University, both undergraduate and graduate.

“We are so proud to have Dr. Conner as a member of our faculty,” said Dr. Karen Shumway, dean of UNT Dallas’ School of Business. “I have known her for many years and she changes lives wherever she goes.”

UME Preparatory Academy was established in order to expand the University Method of Education for grades K-12 to a wider range of families with greater diversity. The goal was to create a new kind of public school that would provide students with a unique opportunity for acquiring a high-quality, college preparatory education previously unavailable outside the private school realm.

With the addition of the Dr. Charlene Conner Learning Center, UME Prep will be serving 1,300 students during the 2019-20 school year. It started in 2012 with 330 students.

UNT Dallas School of Business professor Dr. Charlene Conner (red jacket) digs in during the groundbreaking for the University Method of Education (UME) Preparatory Academy Dr. Charlene Conner Learning Center that opens this fall.