About Michael Ulku-Steiner
Michael Ulku-Steiner became Durham Academy's Head of School on July 1, 2013.
He has deep roots in the Durham Academy community, having begun his teaching career at the Upper School in 1992 after graduating Phi Beta Kappa as a Morehead Scholar from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He served for eight years as teacher, coach, advisor and interim Director of Studies. Michael was recognized for his outstanding teaching in 1997 with Durham Academy’s prestigious F. Robertson Hershey Distinguished Faculty Award.
A self-professed “career learner,” he earned a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from Duke University in 1997. Michael also earned a Master of Arts in Educational Administration as a Klingenstein Fellow at Columbia University in 1998. These degrees added depth to an education that began in Pennsylvania and New Mexico public schools, continued at Albuquerque Academy and enriched by work experiences as a tumbleweed picker, electrocardiogram technician, tour guide, and translator and internships with the Omaha Police Department and Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine.
Michael left DA in 2000 to serve as Dean of Students at The American School in Switzerland (TASIS), an international day and boarding school serving pre-kindergarten through postgraduate students from more than 60 nations.
In 2003, he returned to Durham Academy for five years as DA’s Upper School Director. During that period, he recruited a number of excellent teachers, clarified the school’s focus on character education and ethics, deepened DA’s commitment to diversity, guided the community through an architectural master planning update, and helped to establish and fund Student U.
In 2008, Michael was appointed Head of School at TASIS, where he continued as an exemplary and inspirational leader. As a thoughtful communicator, he demonstrated at both DA and TASIS an innate ability to relate to students, faculty and families across divisions, fostering excellent teaching and an authentic sense of community.
Michael lives in Chapel Hill with his wife, Dr. Beril Ulku-Steiner, and their two children, Kenan (DA '18) and Lucy (DA '21).
For nearly three decades, one burning question has animated his work: "What kinds of communities and experiences best allow young people to grow into their most capable, compassionate, and courageous selves?" Says Michael, "It's a privilege to work, play and learn in a school where that question remains always at the core."