The newest endowed chair established in the University of Arizona College of Education has gone to its dean, Ronald W. Marx.
Marx has been named the first Paul L. Lindsey & Kathy J. Alexander Dean's Chair, established with a $1 million donation from three significant donors and several other contributors. The endowed chair makes 102 for the UA.
The endowment ensures that the College of Education will be led by an educational leader of Marx's caliber in perpetuity.
For Marx, the gratitude is two fold: He is personally indebted and is encouraged by the donors' dedication to advancing education and educational research.
"There is probably no public policy issue in America today that is so fraught with more emotion than what we are going to do about continuing to and improving high quality education for our youth," Marx said.
He also emphasized that the endowed chair means much for his personal research, for future funding and for the recruitment and retention of others in the college.
"While we all compete for local and national funds, the presence of an endowment creates a resource that can be leveraged to get greater returns on that investment for competitive grants and other kinds of awards," Marx said.
So endowed chairs, highly coveted donor-supported positions, represent major financial contributions and aid in the expansion of research and the recruitment of faculty. In a sense, they serve as both a resource and a signal.
"It enables me to use some of the funds to hire a graduate student to do some data analysis and to help write articles and chapters – to keep my scholarship active," said Marx, a stalwart champion for universal access – from early childhood education to higher education – who has invested nearly 40 years to scholarship.
The three major donors are education philanthropist Emily Meschter; UA alumnus Paul L. Lindsey, a member of the college's advisory board, along with his wife and business partner, alumna Kathy J. Alexander; and also a couple that wanted to remain anonymous.
Other contributors are UA professor Kris Bosworth; UA alumna and advisory board member Barbara Cropper and her husband, Gary Cropper, a UA alumnus; and also UA alumni Esther Capin and Charlotte Harris, also advisory board members.
Much of the College of Education's success and growth over the last eight years is because of the vision and leadership of Marx.
The college's recent successes vary, including:
- An Arizona Department of Education survey of Arizona principals administered during the 2008-09 academic year found UA-educated teachers were reported to perform above the state average.
- The project, Algebra Ready: Transition to Academic Success, was launched to increase students' ability in math by better training middle-school teachers. The nearly four-year project is primarily supported by a $560,000 award from the Helios Education Foundation.
- The 2013 U.S. News & World Report’s annual list of Best Graduate Schools placed the College of Education at 51, up from 66 over one year. The college’s graduate program in rehabilitation counseling was ranked sixth in the nation.
- The expansion of programs into Chandler, including the college's Math & Science Teacher Education/Retention Industry Partnerships, or MASTER-IP, program and the graduate education specialist program in school psychology.
- A $735,442 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant funding the assessment of how community colleges adopt and use social media technology for strategic purposes, which is being led by the UA's Center for the Study of Higher Education.
- Another Helios Education Foundation grant, at $1.55 million for four years, to launch CREATE, Communities as Resources in Early Childhood Teacher Education, a collaboration to fundamentally shift the way early childhood educators learn about their students.
- A $1 million Arizona Board of Regents grant to coordinate a tri-university effort to improve student success.
The 18-month project is called Assessment Literacy and Instructional Leadership in High-Poverty, Low-Performing Schools.
With the college's tremendous successes in recent years in mind, and driven by a devotion to education, the donors worked to raise funds for the endowment, Lindsey said.
Lindsey, a longtime donor to the College of Education, asked: "Is there anything more essential to personal success than a good educational foundation?"
The endowed chair will allow Marx and "future administrations to attract the best and brightest from all over the world to the leadership of this great school," Lindsey said. "We are delighted to be able to participate in that future by assisting in the endowment of this position."
In addition to the donors for their "significant contribution," Marx said he was grateful to the UA Foundation and Stacey Turner, the college's development director.
"With one of the leading public universities in America securing these endowments, it sends a signal to the rest of the institutions that we believe in educational research and applied scholarship," said Marx, who is dedicated to instruction that ensures success in learning for all.
"It's wonderful to have great supporters of the college who have the capacity to give," he also said. "It is sending the signal to the community that we are important."