A prominent area educator and administrator will bring more than three decades of
experience to establish and lead new graduate programs in Trine University’s Franks
School of Education beginning this fall.
Phil Downs, Ph.D., who announced plans to retire as superintendent of Southwest Allen
County Schools earlier this year, will join Trine as director of education graduate
programs and accreditation.
At Trine, Downs will oversee development of new graduate programs within the Franks
School of Education, and ensure the school meets requirements for accreditation by
the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and the Specialized
Professional Association (SPA) programs.
Downs was named the state of Indiana’s Superintendent of the Year in 2020.
Tony Kline, Ph.D., dean of the Franks School of Education, said Downs will lead the
development of “innovative, distinct, professionally focused certificate and master's
"We are thrilled to have Dr. Downs join the Franks School of Education at Trine University
as we begin a new chapter by building our first graduate programs,” Kline said. “Dr.
Downs has an impressive history of service to the education profession. His vision,
intellect, innovative problem solving and genuine disposition have earned him the
respect of so many across the state and beyond.
“His creative instincts along with years of proven educational leadership at the highest
levels will inform our programs to equip the next generation of education leaders
and difference makers."
Downs began at Fort Wayne Community Schools in 1989, teaching social studies and language
arts, and coaching soccer for 11 years. In 2001, he moved to Northwest Allen County
Schools, where he was assistant principal at Maple Creek Middle School and opened
Cedar Canyon Elementary in 2006 as its first principal.
He became assistant superintendent of Southwest Allen County Schools in 2010 and superintendent
in 2014. He has played a key role in the district’s ongoing $169 million project to
upgrade and reshape Homestead High School, and helped implement virtual learning options
that expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I have been an admirer of how Trine has been so responsive to students. The opportunity
to be a part of a team that is nimble and eager to make a difference is very exciting
to me,” he said. “I hope we are able to grow a graduate program directly tied into
the needs of school district leaders while providing our candidates skills and dispositions
that prepare them for the wide range of leadership opportunities within the field
Downs holds a Ph.D. in education leadership from Purdue University and administrative
certification, a master of science in education administration, and bachelor’s degrees
in education and history from Purdue Fort Wayne.
He serves on the boards of numerous community and education associations, including
the Comprehensive Center Network, Purdue University Department of Educational Studies
Advisory Board, Anthony Wayne Foundation, American Association of School Administrators,
Friends of the Lincoln Collection, EdLeader21, The Orthopedic Hospital. He also is
District 2 chair for the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents and
past president of the board for the Mike Downs Center for the Study of Indiana Politics
at Purdue Fort Wayne.
Last Updated: 04/22/2021