JSU interim President Rod Paige, the son of a school principal and a librarian, rose from humble roots in a segregated small-town in Mississippi all the way to U.S. Secretary of Education. He assumed his new role on Nov. 7, 2016.
From 2001 to 2005, Paige served in George W. Bush’s administration. As the nation’s top educator, he championed student achievement and employed "best of breed" solutions to raise national standards of educational excellence. A member of the presidential Cabinet, Paige spearheaded the implementation of the historic No Child Left Behind Act, with the goal of reinvigorating America’s education system.
Paige forged his reputation for seeking out and putting in place innovative approaches to systemic academic improvement when he was dean of the College of Education at Texas Southern University (TSU). At TSU, he established the University's Center for Excellence in Urban Education.
He also has shown a knack for inclusive leadership, first as a school board trustee and then as superintendent of the Houston Independent School District, then the nation's seventh-largest district. When he was appointed superintendent in 1994, he was the first African-American in the district’s history to serve in that position. In 1999, Paige was named one of the top two educators in the country by the Council of the Great City Schools. Two years later, Paige was honored as National Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators.
Following his time as Secretary of Education, Paige served as a Public Policy Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. In 2006, he authored The War Against Hope and, in 2010, published The Black-White Achievement Gap: Why Closing it is the Greatest Civil Rights Issue of Our Time.
In his relentless quest to improve the quality of education for all students, Paige is an active member of numerous boards, including the Universal Technical Institute (UTI), Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, the American College of Education, Patten University, Strake Foundation, Blue Cure Foundation, Texas Charter Schools Association and the National Council of Economic Education's Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, among others.
Paige is the eldest of five siblings. He and his wife, Stephanie Nellons-Paige, have a son and daughter.