GSE alumnus to head Oregon Department of Education

Salam NoorSalam Noor, ‘12, will take the top job at the Oregon Department of Education (ODE), appointed by Governor Kate Brown to succeed Rob Saxon as deputy superintendent of public instruction. Saxon, who held the post for three years, is retiring and will work part-time for the Northwest Regional Education Service District.

Noor is currently the director of academic planning and policy at the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC), where he coordinates academic programs and degree pathways for Oregon universities. But it was his previous 12 years of service at ODE that made him the logical candidate for the deputy post. At ODE, he served for six years as assistant superintendent in the Office of Educational Improvement. This was during a critical time of change for education in the state. Noor led the transformation of the Oregon High School Graduation Standards and the development of a powerful, statewide early reading and literacy initiative. He was also responsible for implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act in Oregon and for the state’s Closing the Achievement Gap initiative.

Noor served as assistant superintendent for six years in the Salem-Keizer School District, where he helped transform the district’s approach to English learners and brought clear focus on student achievement. Among his accomplishments, he initiated a preschool program for six schools in Salem-Keizer that had a high concentration of low-income students. He also increased technical and career education in the district’s high schools.

“Salam Noor is a great choice for this leadership role both for his experience and his fundamental commitment to equity,” said PSU Educational Leadership and Policy Professor Pat Burk, who worked with Noor for many years at ODE. “His recent leadership role at the HECC has given him an in-depth perspective on higher education issues. This is a leader who can connect all aspects of education.”

Noor is a graduate of the PSU Continuing Administrator Licensure program and a Fulbright Scholar. He has taught education and political science for Portland State University, Western Oregon University, Brigham Young University, and the University of Utah.

He is a first-generation immigrant from Kuwait who joined a brother in Seattle when he was 16. He arrived in the United States still learning English but graduated from high school in Seattle and then earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in public administration from Eastern Washington University and a doctorate in education from the University of Utah.

Noor will assume his new post on July 1, pending confirmation from the Oregon Senate.

This is the first time Governor Brown has appointed the state’s education leader, and it’s the second appointment to the post since 2011, when the legislature eliminated the elected K–12 position. Under the current law, Governor Brown is the state’s head of education and appoints a deputy superintendent to administer all education components in the state.

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