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Bush Education Leader Joins Neag School of Education
(Released: 02/20/01)

By Janice Palmer, Office of University Communications

STORRS, Conn. -- John MacDonald, assistant secretary of elementary and secondary education during the first Bush administration has joined the University of Connecticut faculty.

As professor in residence at the Neag School of Education, MacDonald's prime goal is to establish a center for educational policy and leadership, which will provide unbiased information to schools and government leaders throughout Connecticut and the northeastern states.

"Jack is a person of incredible integrity and experience and has achieved universal respect from Democrats and Republicans alike," says Richard Schwab, dean of the school. "By joining us, he's in a position to share his immense experience, knowledge and connections with the next generation of education leaders and with our faculty. We're thrilled to have him on board!"

MacDonald, who had been considering retirement, says one reason he accepted the position was because "The Neag School of Education has one of the strongest teacher training programs in the country."

MacDonald's career as an educator has spanned more than 40 years. He began as a teacher in the Groton public schools then became a principal. He served as superintendent of schools in Wallingford and in two Massachusetts school districts. In 1986, he was appointed Commissioner of Education for the state of New Hampshire, serving under governors John Sununu and Judd Gregg. Nearly four years later, he was beckoned to the nation's capitol to become a principal advisor to the Secretary of Education on all elementary and secondary education issues.

When the Bush presidency ended, MacDonald was asked to join the Council of Chief State School Officers - a nonpartisan advocacy and service organization representing the nation's state education commissioners. On behalf of the council, MacDonald established the State Leadership Center, which provides information and direct technical assistance to school leaders and policymakers in every state. As its director, MacDonald crisscrossed the country to help education leaders develop standards, goals and programs for improving their schools.

"We brought them the information and resources they needed by designing teams of experts to meet their specific demands," he says.

Now his mission is to work with Sharon Rallis and Mark Shibles, professors of educational leadership, to establish an education policy center at UConn.

"We'll maintain good currency on good practice, but a big part of this center will not be just the paper. We'll have the experts who can help implement it," he says. "Land grant universities are uniquely suited to do this. If we do not have the expertise on a particular subject matter here at UConn, we have access to people at other institutions."

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