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Last modified: Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Russell Edgerton to receive honorary degree at IUPUI

April 8, 2008

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis will award an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree to Russell Edgerton at commencement on May 11 (Sunday).

Recognized as leading expert on undergraduate higher education for the past 30 years, Edgerton has served in positions that have allowed him to articulate and call attention to the principles, values and goals of American institutions of higher education. Dozens of practices now taken for granted, including learning communities, first-year experiences, peer review of teaching, and assessment of student learning, can be traced directly to Edgerton's leadership.

Before coming to his current position as director of the Pew Forum on Undergraduate Learning in 2000, Edgerton was director of the Pew Charitable Trusts Education Program from 1997 to 2000. Before that time, he served for 20 years as president of the American Association for Higher Education.

In that position, Edgerton visited many campuses, including IUPUI, and offered inspirational advice on how to cultivate and improve undergraduate education. Using a metaphor of himself and AAHE as Paul Revere, riding through the night to bring issues to public attention, he emphasized creating a supportive learning environment, fostering students' motivation to persist in achieving academic goals, and promoting faculty efforts to engage and inspire students.

Across the country, Edgerton sparked a renewal of attention to these issues. Several projects that resulted from this work were funded first by the Pew Charitable Trusts, and later by the Pew Forum for Undergraduate Learning, among them Indiana University's National Student Survey of Engagement (NSSE).

Edgerton also was the principal architect of the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, a governmental foundation devoted to the improvement of post-secondary education. He served as the organization's deputy director from 1972 to 1977. He also was special assistant to Department of Health, Education and Welfare Secretaries Robert Finch and Elliot Richardson from 1969 to 1972.

Edgerton, who has been honored by many of the nation's educational associations for his leadership and service to higher education, began his career at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science.