1/07/2014 Kevin Burke

F&M Dean Named to Prominent Group of Innovative Educational Leaders

  • Donnell Butler, a 1995 graduate of F&M and senior associate dean for planning and analysis of student outcomes at the College, is one of 24 educational innovators from across the U.S. chosen for the prestigious Pahara-Aspen Education Fellows Program. (Photo by Eric Forberger) 

The prestigious Pahara-Aspen Education Fellows Program has selected Donnell Butler, F&M's senior associate dean for planning and analysis of student outcomes, as a member of its spring 2014 cohort of innovative leaders focused on reimagining America's public schools.

He joins 23 other senior administrators from education and community-oriented organizations across the country in a two-year program that provides fellows with the opportunity to step back from the demands of their day-to-day work and reflect with peers on their individual and collective impact as leaders and change agents.

A partnership of the San Francisco Bay area Pahara Institute -- a national nonprofit supporting efforts to bring about transformational improvements in public education -- and the Washington, D.C.-based Aspen Institute for educational and policy studies, the fellowship program seeks to produce a strong cadre of entrepreneurial executives to push for new solutions, policies, and practices that strengthen and expand educational opportunities for all children, especially those from lower-income and underserved communities.

"Support of exceptional leaders is crucial in our efforts to achieve excellence and equity for all our public school students and to create the high-quality learning opportunities our communities need," said Kim Smith, Pahara Institute founder and CEO. "This new cohort of Pahara-Aspen Institute Fellows exemplifies this kind of bold, innovative leadership."

As F&M's point person for planning and analysis of student outcomes, Butler works closely with the offices of the president, provost, admission, and dean of the College, in addition to other offices across the institution, to facilitate strategy formation as well as integrate and evaluate College activities that improve student access, help students make the transition from high school to college, and promote long-term academic achievement among all F&M students.

The 1995 F&M graduate also contributes to the College's efforts to cultivate and maintain relationships with high-performing secondary schools, education networks such as the national Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), and enrichment program partners, including the Posse Foundation and College Match, to bring high-achieving students to the College.

"Having attended a school on a military base, an American international school, an inner-city public school, and an elite private school, I have experienced firsthand many forms of American K-12 education. These experiences shape my passion today for equity and excellence in American education," Butler said.

"With increasing global competition and enduring social and public health problems, as a nation we cannot afford to let any talent go to waste. Our success, our survival, depends on strong and vibrant public schools as the cornerstone of American education. I am thrilled and eager to have the opportunity to learn and work with other extraordinary leaders in education and to represent Franklin & Marshall College and higher education as a Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow."

Holder of a Ph.D. in sociology from Princeton University, where he served as a project director for the Ford Foundation-supported Campus Life in America Student Survey, Butler also is a former director of background questionnaire research and development for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) at Educational Testing Services in Princeton, N.J. -- creator of the largest nationally representative and continuing survey of how American students experience teaching and learning in various subjects from grade school through high school.

Upon completion of the fellows program, which consists of advanced seminars about issues in public education and social change, and a leadership project, each fellow is expected to make a lasting difference in his or her sphere of influence through "effective and enlightened leadership."

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