Carnegie Launches Search for Boyer Successor

By Ann Bradley — January 10, 1996 4 min read
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Following the death of Ernest L. Boyer, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has named an interim president and will begin this month the process of finding a successor for the influential educator.

Mr. Boyer, 67, one of the premier statesmen of American education, died Dec. 8 of lymphoma.

Charles E. Glassick, the vice chairman of the foundation’s board of trustees and the president of the Robert W. Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta, has been named the acting president of the Princeton, N.J.-based foundation.

Mr. Glassick is a former president of Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania and previously served as a Carnegie Foundation vice president. He is “thoroughly familiar with the work of the foundation and the ideal person to serve during this transition period,” Stanley O. Ikenberry, the chairman of the foundation’s board and the president of the University of Illinois, said in a statement.

The Carnegie Foundation, established in 1905, has about 25 employees and an endowment of about $75 million. In 1910, the foundation’s seminal Flexner Report laid the groundwork for the modern system of medical training. Later, Carnegie scholars generated some of the first research on higher education.

Mr. Boyer enlarged the scope of the foundation’s work to include influential reports on precollegiate education and children’s issues.

Friends, colleagues, and admirers of Mr. Boyer will gather in Princeton Jan. 21 to pay tribute.

No Single Solution

In his 15 years as the president of the foundation, Mr. Boyer left his mark on every level of schooling, from children’s early years through college. His books and reports were praised for their clear, common-sense approach to improving education and for their emphasis on making connections for students, both within the curriculum and across various levels of school. (See Education Week, May 24, 1995.)

“He will be remembered for understanding the critical connection between the home, the community, and the school,” said Mary Hatwood Futrell, the dean of the graduate school of education and human development at George Washington University in Washington and a former president of the National Education Association.

Mr. Boyer acquired a thorough appreciation for the complexities of education in his 40-year career in the field, which included service as the chancellor of the State University of New York and as the U.S. commissioner of education before the creation of a separate federal Department of Education.

The widespread media attention his work received helped make Mr. Boyer well-known as a moderate and respected advocate for better schools.

“He was absolutely perfection when it came to explaining educational ideas to the American people,” said Patricia Albjerg Graham, the president of the Spencer Foundation in Chicago. “He was a terrific explainer of what good education should be.”

‘Intellectual Giant’

Mr. Boyer made a splash in 1983 with the publication of High School, which focused public attention on what he concluded had become “a troubled institution” with a confused mission and low standards.

Mr. Boyer followed with an examination of undergraduate colleges, a volume of recommendations for preparing young children to enter school, and a blueprint for successful elementary schools. (See excerpts, this page.)

In higher education, Mr. Boyer’s report Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate has fueled a movement to redefine and broaden the work of scholars.

Robert H. Atwell, the president of the American Council on Education, a Washington-based umbrella organization of higher-education groups, called Mr. Boyer “the towering intellectual giant of American education over the last quarter century.”

Under his leadership, the Carnegie Foundation also established a consultancy with China, where his works have been translated into Chinese.

A delegation from the Chinese embassy in Washington is expected to attend the memorial service. U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley and Sen. Paul Simon, D-Ill., who was recently named to the foundation’s board of trustees, are scheduled to speak.

Reports in Progress

The Carnegie Foundation will continue supporting a network of elementary schools that follow principles Mr. Boyer elaborated in his 1995 book, The Basic School.

A report on school reform in England is due out next month, as well as a follow-up to Scholarship Reconsidered.

In memory of Mr. Boyer, the foundation has set up a scholarship fund to help teachers rejuvenate their careers. Contributions to the Boyer Scholarship Teachers’ Fund can be sent to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 5 Ivy Lane, Princeton, N.J. 08540

The memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 21, at the Princeton University chapel. A reception will follow from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.


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