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Ex-W.Va. Governor To Head Up New Institute at Teachers College

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Former Gov. Gaston Caperton of West Virginia has been named the founding director of the Institute for Government and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.

The new institute, to be located at Teachers College in New York City, will focus on helping governors, legislators, and other state leaders improve their schools.

In snagging Mr. Caperton, college officials got their top choice, said Arthur Levine, the president of Teachers College.

"We set out to recruit a top governor," one of "only three or four" who had left their marks for the better on a state's educational system, Mr. Levine said in an interview last week. The states "could use the assistance of a leader who has done it before," he said.

Mr. Levine said that the institute will be philanthropically funded and that Mr. Caperton will help shape its direction when he begins work in September. But it will likely provide direct support for states working on comprehensive education plans, as well as recognizing model programs and offering workshops targeted to states' needs, he said.

For the past several months, Mr. Caperton, 57, has been at Harvard University as a fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. He is also writing a book titled Yes, You Can: Inspired Leadership for Everyone.

The Democrat, whose first run for public office landed him in the governor's chair in 1989, served the constitutional limit of two terms. He left office at the end of last year. He was mentioned as a possible successor to U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley if Mr. Riley had chosen not to stay on after President Clinton's re-election.

While governor, Mr. Caperton presided over steady improvements in the state's schools, which in the 1970s had been among the nation's most lackluster. A millionaire insurance executive and banker, Mr. Caperton initiated a computer-technology program, which included putting computers and a teacher with computer training in every K-5 classroom.

An education reform act passed by the legislature in 1996 with his support focuses the state's schools on basic skills while requiring closer links between schoolwork and the world of work.

--BESS KELLER

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