Dissertation topic prophetic for new Ceres superintendent

Denise Wickham ’07

Denise Wickham ’07

Denise Wickham ’07 foreshadowed her career aspirations and path with the topic of her dissertation when she earned her EdD in Educational Administration and Leadership at University of the Pacific: Female superintendents: Perceived barriers and successful strategies used to attain the superintendency in California."

On July 1, 2021, Wickham will become the next superintendent of Ceres Unified School District in Stanislaus County. She will take over for Scott Siegel ’11—also a Pacific graduate—who has announced his retirement.

The district’s school board promoted Wickham from her position as deputy superintendent of personnel services, which she has held since 2013, in September. Wickham joined the district in 2005 and has held several administrative positions. She previously worked for Manteca and Riverdale schools.

In her Pacific dissertation, Wickham researched methods women could use to start eliminating the discrepancy between men and women superintendents in California. She cites her work when describing how she attained her position.

I used the information and knowledge I learned at UOP to stay on course and not give up on pursuing an opportunity,” Wickham said. She noted that this knowledge was “instrumental in helping me get the position at this time.”

University programs need to consider adequately preparing females for the unique barriers that they may encounter while attempting to secure a superintendent position.”

She commends Pacific’s preparation of women for superintendent roles.

“I think that UOP has established amazing role models and mentors for women pursuing the highest level of education. (Pacific) encourages women to research, publish and aspire,” she said.

Wickham further appreciated the flexibility of Pacific’s EdD program.

“I could establish my own pace, which was pretty quick. I wanted to get my research done and move through the program quickly,” she said. “I wasn’t locked into a cohort model. I got to have my educational experience with different people and their different perspectives.”

Ceres school officials praised Wickham as an ideal choice in interviews with the Ceres Courier newspaper.

She is wholly qualified for this next challenge and I am confident that, under her leadership, CUSD will continue to thrive,” said current superintendent Siegel said.

Ceres board of trustees president Mike Welsh added: “We have watched her handle even the most challenging situations over the years with care and respect for the needs of all involved. I don’t think we could have made a better choice.”