2009 Archives

Renowned education scholar to join SMU faculty

James Guthrie also first senior fellow at George W. Bush Institute

November 12, 2009

James GuthrieDALLAS (SMU) — Celebrated scholar James Guthrie will join the faculty at SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development while serving as a Senior Fellow at the George W. Bush Institute, a think tank that is part of the George W. Bush Presidential Center to be built on the SMU campus.  This is the first concurrent appointment for SMU and the Bush Institute.

At SMU Thursday, former President Bush announced in a speech that Guthrie will become the Bush Institute’s Director of Education Policy Studies and will direct a program of research into ways to improve the quality of school leaders, including principals and administrators.

Currently, Guthrie is Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy and Director of the Peabody Center for Education Policy at Vanderbilt University, whose education school was ranked number-one in the country this year by U.S.News & World Report.

“James Guthrie’s contributions to the field of education are legendary,” said David Chard, the Leon Simmons Dean of the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. “His timely scholarship targets the obstacles that schools must overcome to provide all children access to high-quality education. His presence on our faculty will immediately shine a spotlight on SMU Simmons School’s efforts to address some of education’s most pressing challenges. Dr. Guthrie's appointment, confirmed by a vote of our faculty, recognizes his outstanding scholarship on education policy development and the critical role of leadership in effective education.”

“The unique attribute Guthrie brings is his continual insistence on evidence-based policy, something he did long before anybody even invented a term for it,” said Eric Hanushek, Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. Frederick Hess, director of Education Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute and executive editor of Education Next Magazine, called Guthrie one of the nation's most eminent thinkers on questions of educational leadership, education policy and school reform.

Guthrie is the author or co-author of 20 books and more than 200 academic and professional articles. He serves as a frequent expert witness in court cases and has been a consultant for state, national and international agencies and governments. Guthrie has been selected to serve on panels of the National Academy of Sciences and is the winner of 12 awards and academic fellowships, among them the Alexander Heard Distinguished Service Professor Award at Vanderbilt University.

Guthrie was a professor for 27 years at the University of California at Berkeley, holds a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from Stanford University, and undertook postdoctoral study in public finance at Harvard.  Guthrie was a postdoctoral fellow at Oxford Brookes College, Oxford, England, and the Irving R. Melbo Visiting Professor at the University of Southern California.

His three-year appointments to both the SMU faculty and the Bush Institute begin in January 2010. Agreements signed by SMU and the Bush Foundation in February 2008 outline the stipulations for concurrent appointments – to serve on the SMU faculty, fellows must meet the same criteria that apply to appointees to other faculty positions, and their nomination must be reviewed and approved by the appropriate academic department and school.

“Simmons School faculty and Bush Institute personnel developed vision statements and identified education policy and leadership as common areas of interest,” Chard said. “With these common interests, we independently searched for scholars highly regarded in both areas.  Dr. Guthrie’s name was the first choice of both institutions. The faculty at the Simmons School recognized overwhelmingly that this was an opportunity to hire an internationally recognized scholar on education policy and leadership.”

Guthrie likely will present guest lectures in existing courses, Chard said.  In addition, he will help the SMU Simmons School’s Department of Education Policy and Leadership to develop an institute for education leaders.  Guthrie will continue his research on effective teaching and the impact of teacher incentives on improved student performance. He also will work with the SMU faculty and Bush Institute staff to identify additional areas of research related to education reform.

SMU was officially named the site of the George W. Bush Presidential Center on Feb. 22, 2008.  Located five miles north of downtown Dallas, SMU is a private university of nearly 11,000 students from throughout the United States and 90 other countries.

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