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Paul Cruz
Biographical Information

Dr. Paul Cruz is the co-director of the Cooperative Superintendency Program (CSP) and is a Professor of Practice with the University of Texas at Austin.  The CSP offers a doctoral degree within the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy and prepares future superintendents and executive school leaders to serve in leadership roles to meet the ever-changing needs in the public education system.   

Prior to joining the University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Cruz served as the Superintendent of Schools in the Austin Independent School District (ISD) from 2014–2020.  The Austin ISD, the sixth largest district in Texas, enrolls approximately 81,000 students with a workforce of around 12,000 employees. 

Under Dr. Cruz’s leadership, the Austin ISD graduation rate reached an all-time high—outperforming the state and nation—with two-thirds of AISD graduates enrolling directly into college.  Austin ISD met all student performance standards set by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and earned a Recognized rating from the TEA.  Moreover, students scored above their peers throughout the state and the nation on ACT and SAT, and Austin ISD was named to the Advanced Placement Honor Roll.

During his tenure as superintendent, Austin ISD created a 20 year Facility Master Plan, passed a $1.05 billion dollar bond, and secured the largest staff pay raise in the history of the district.  Moreover, Dr. Cruz worked with the community on the development, implementation and expansion of various initiatives at Austin ISD, including:

  • Dual-language programs in Spanish, Vietnamese and Chinese;
  • Early College High Schools;
  • Family Resource Centers:
  • Pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds;
  • Social and Emotional Learning;
  • Creative Learning Initiative; 
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math);
  • Career Launch (Technology and Health Science);
  • Montessori school; and
  • Breakfast in the Classroom.

Dr. Cruz was named to the Executive Board of the Council of Great City Schools which is a group that represents the largest urban districts in the nation.  He also served as Chair of the Texas Urban Council which represents the major urban districts in the state of Texas. 

With his goal of supporting students and families, Dr. Cruz began his career in education in 1987 working as a teacher, campus administrator, central office administrator and superintendent in Corpus Christi, San Antonio and Laredo. He was also the deputy commissioner for dropout prevention at the Texas Education Agency. He served as a board member for the Austin Area Research OrganizationAustin Ed Fund and Austin Partners in Education.

Dr. Cruz received his Ph.D. in educational leadership from the University of Texas at Austin.  In his doctoral program, Dr. Cruz was a fellow in the Cooperative Superintendency Program.  He received a Bachelor of Science degree in education from the University of Texas at Austin, with a specialization in English, and a Master of Science degree in educational administration from Corpus Christi State University.