WPI President Dennis D. Berkey to Serve as 'Leader for Education'

Media Contact
September 11, 2008

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WORCESTER, Mass. -  It was announced today that Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) President and CEO Dennis D. Berkey will serve on the steering commission of a newly-formed coalition which aims to provide broad support for changes in public education—and to put education reform back in a primary position at the Statehouse and among the state’s public officials.   The coalition, known as Leaders For Education, is comprised of business, civic and higher education leaders based in the Commonwealth.  The steering committee consists of 20 CEOs with the majority coming from the Boston-area; Berkey is the only Worcester-based CEO serving at this time.

"President Berkey has been both an educator and an educational leader for more than 30 years," said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation and founding member of Leaders For Education.  “He is nationally recognized for being a visionary and an innovator, and I know that he will be a dynamic member of this coalition as we work towards reforming our state’s educational system.  Leaders For Education is fortunate to have his vision and experience as we navigate towards education reform.” 

Dennis Berkey was appointed the fifteenth president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 2004 following more than 30 years of service in a variety of higher education positions. He is an award-winning teacher and the author of several mathematics textbooks. His published research is in applied mathematics. Earlier this year, Berkey was appointed by the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts to serve as chair of its Executive Committee of college and university presidents. Berkey also serves on numerous boards including UMass Memorial Health Care Inc., the Massachusetts Biomedical Initiative, the Massachusetts Mathematics and Science Initiative, and Worcester’s Research Bureau. He is a member of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, and has previously served as a trustee of Muskingum College, the Dibner Institute for Science and Technology, and the Huntington Theatre.

“It is an honor and a pleasure to serve with the Leaders for Education,” said Berkey. “Returning public education to the top of our statewide priorities is essential, for both funding and stronger support for innovation and high performance by our teachers and students. The ideas and commitment to action on the part of this commission are truly impressive.” 

Leaders For Education grew out of earlier efforts by the Great Schools Campaign/Mass Insight Education, the Massachusetts High Technology Council, and the Boston Foundation, each of which had developed similar strategies for transforming Massachusetts’ education system in ways consistent with the global demands of the 21st century.  Impatient with the pace of education reform 15 years after the historic achievements in Education Reform in 1993, the Leaders For Education group has made specific recommendations in its charter, emphasizing the following principles:

  • Preserve and expand effective reforms put into place as the result of the achievements in1993, including the use of MCAS, the standards-based evaluation of students as a requirement of graduation; and the role of charter schools as an option for students;
  • Raise expectations for schools, educators and students based on the changing demands of the economy; and
  • Invest in meaningful innovation.

Leaders For Education is also urging Governor Deval Patrick’s Administration and the Massachusetts State Legislature to:

  • Increase spending and identify efficiencies that could be put into place to lower costs and free resources for investment in educational innovation;
  • Lift the cap that has been imposed on the number of charter schools in the state and promote the development of additional pilot schools, in parallel and in addition to Readiness Schools;
  • Create real targets for Readiness Schools, including timetables for roll-out and numbers of new schools to be created using the Readiness Project in coming years;
  • Introduce differentiated compensation for teachers and school administrators that address the realities of special challenges in subjects that fail to draw sufficient teachers, and the special challenges in failing schools.