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New head of school Michael Ulku-Steiner has deep roots in the DA community

Michael Ulku-Steiner will join Durham Academy July 1, 2013, as head of school. He follows Ed Costello, who is leaving DA after 14 years as headmaster.

Ulku-Steiner comes from The American School in Switzerland (TASIS), where he has served as head of school since 2008, but he has deep roots in the DA community. He began his teaching career at the Upper School in 1992 after graduating Phi Beta Kappa and as a Morehead Scholar from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ulku-Steiner served eight years as a teacher, coach, adviser and interim director of studies, and in 1997 he was awarded DA’s F. Robertson Hershey Distinguished Faculty Award.
A self-professed “career learner,” Ulku-Steiner earned a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from Duke University in 1997 and a Master of Arts in Educational Administration from Columbia University in 2008. He left DA in 2000 to serve as dean of students at TASIS until 2003, when he returned for five years as DA’s Upper School director. In 2008, he was appointed head of school at TASIS.
“Michael Ulku-Steiner has an innate ability to relate to students, faculty and families across divisions, fostering excellent teaching and an authentic sense of community,” said David Beischer, chair of the DA board of trustees, and Brendan Moylan, chair of the Head of School Search Committee, in a letter to the DA community.
“He is that rare leader who combines vision, charisma, intellect, integrity, warmth and a keen sense of curiosity,” they continued.
In a letter to the DA community, Ulku-Steiner said he returns to DA “eager to build on the abundant institutional strengths nurtured by Ed Costello since 1999. Ed will leave the campus and community in tremendous good health. Having worked closely with him and six other Heads of School, I realize that I have much to learn. Nevertheless, I am confident that I can serve the DA community with skill, energy and love.”
Returning with him to DA will be his wife, Dr. Beril Ulku-Steiner, a developmental psychologist currently teaching at Franklin College in Switzerland, and their two children, Kenan and Lucy, ages 13 and 10 respectively.
“For more than two decades, this burning question has motivated my work in three universities, three stints at DA and seven years at The American School in Switzerland,” said Ulku-Steiner. “How can schools and communities best help children grow into their most compassionate, capable and courageous selves? DA has already offered my children and me innumerable gifts and transformative experiences. I am delighted to have the opportunity to return.”