Tom Vander Ark, who has overseen more than $1.3 billion in education grantmaking for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will step down from his post as the Seattle-based philanthropy’s top education official at the end of the year.
Marie Groark, a spokeswoman for the foundation, said last week that Mr. Vander Ark would remain with the foundation as a senior fellow, and would spend time writing and speaking about the grantmaking that he managed for the philanthropy’s efforts to improve high schools.
His last day as executive director for education initiatives will be Dec. 31, she said.
“It was a personal decision on his part,” she said. “This in no way signals that our strategy will change. There will not be a redirection of our work.”
Mr. Vander Ark started the education program for the foundation and has held its top post for 7½ years, Ms. Groark said.
The foundation in the past couple of years has broadened its giving from creating small high schools to also investing in key policy levers at the local, state, and federal levels. (“Gates Learns to Think Big,” Oct. 11, 2006.)
Allan C. Golston, who is Gates’ director of U.S. programs, will serve as the interim director for education until a national search is conducted to find a replacement for Mr. Vander Ark, Ms. Groark said.
In early October, the Los Angeles Times reported that Mr. Vander Ark was one of five finalists to become the next superintendent of the Los Angeles school district. Retired U.S. Navy Vice Adm. David L. Brewer was hired for the job.
Gates’ giving includes a three-year grant to Editorial Projects in Education, the publisher of Education Week, for Diplomas Count, a report on high school graduation rates.
A version of this article appeared in the November 08, 2006 edition of Education Week