News Release from AASCU


Contact: Jennifer Herrera (202) 478-4665


Campuses Honored for Leadership and Innovation

WASHINGTON, DC—Two public universities have been honored for leadership and innovation in teacher education. Towson University (Md.) and Western Kentucky University have been named the 2008 recipients of the Christa McAuliffe Award for Excellence in Teacher Education by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).

The purpose of the award is two fold: To recognize excellence in teacher education programs and to advance the field of teacher education by identifying promising practices and critical issues related to measuring the impact of programs on teacher candidate knowledge and the impact of these teachers on pupil learning.

In announcing the awards, AASCU President Constantine W. (Deno) Curris said, “Many of our teacher education programs are doing outstanding jobs. We want to recognize the best among those programs.”

The 2008 Christa McAuliffe awardees and the programs for which they are being recognized are as follows:

Towson University is being recognized for its Professional Development School Network. Through outreach to 115 school sites in metropolitan Baltimore, the network seeks to facilitate learning of P-12 students and improve the skills of inservice and preservice teachers.

“While Towson University is a Metropolitan University with outreach programs and partnerships with all segments of our region’s economy, we are proud of our roots as a normal school,” says Robert L. Caret, president of Towson University. “With a heritage of preparing teachers who shaped generations of students, we have leveraged that dedication to effect significant impacts beyond classrooms, beyond school systems’ administrative offices, and straight to the core development of many Maryland citizens. We are honored to have our history, our current achievements, and our aspirations for quality educators recognized through the Christa McAuliffe Award.”

Western Kentucky University (WKU) is being recognized for its Teacher Education Preparation Programs and its groundbreaking work developing and utilizing Teacher Work Sample data. Their unique program utilizes the Kentucky Core Content standards and reports P-12 student progress based on assessment aligned to those standards.

"We are thrilled to be recognized nationally for our education preparation programs, which are at the very core of our institutional beginning as a teacher's college,” says WKU president Gary Ransdell. “At WKU, we strive to graduate leaders in education. These leaders, whether in the classroom, school office or the central office, are responsible for one of the most important economic development tools available—the education of our children. Having our programs associated with such a prestigious national honor is a further testament to the exceptional experience our faculty and staff all across WKU provide for our students."

George L. Mehaffy, AASCU's vice president for Academic Leadership and Change, and whose division oversees the award process, said, "The Christa McAuliffe Award challenges teacher education programs to demonstrate the effectiveness of their programs, an incredibly difficult task.  Yet these two award winners have made striking progress in demonstrating the impact of their program on graduates and the impact of those graduates on K-12 students.             

"Through this award, these nationally-selected programs offer innovative leadership in the continuing redesign and improvement of teacher education," he said. "The proposals we received demonstrate that AASCU institutions are committed to placing highly trained and fully qualified teachers in America's classrooms."

AASCU’s Christa McAuliffe award, named in honor of the teacher who died in the 1986 Challenger disaster, was first presented in the 1980s. McAuliffe was a graduate of Framingham State College (Mass.) and Bowie State University (Md.), both AASCU members. In 2001 the AASCU Board of Directors authorized a change in focus for the award—an emphasis on honoring programs that could document the success of their graduates and their impact on the pupils that they teach.

AASCU institutions prepare more than 50 percent of all new teachers in the United States. Curris noted, “AASCU members are working to increase both the quantity and quality of teachers for America’s classrooms.“ AASCU will present the award at its 2008 Annual Meeting scheduled for November 22-25 in Williamsburg, Virginia.


AASCU is the leadership association of 420 public colleges and universities Delivering America’s Promise through their common commitments to access, affordability and educational opportunity. Enrolling more than 3 million students, these institutions fulfill the expectations of a public university by working for the public good through education, stewardship and engagement, thereby improving the lives of people in their community, their region and their state.