Celebrating 125 Years

Alumni Achievement Award – Dr. Betty Louise Whitford

Photo of Dr. Betty Louise Whitford

Dr. Betty Louise Whitford

Dr. Betty Louise Whitford has led a 38-year career devoted to improving schools, rising to become a national leader in efforts to create collaborations between universities and school systems. Her work reflects a deep commitment to research and to the extension of knowledge gained from research to improve our nation’s classrooms.

Betty Lou obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Social Studies Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1972. Also at Carolina, she earned a Master of Arts in Teaching in 1976 and her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction and Sociology of Education in 1981.

She worked as a social studies teacher for three years before her graduate school education. Since then, Betty Lou has taught courses for undergraduates and graduate students in initial teacher education programs, as well as courses for master’s and doctoral students in school change, secondary curriculum, qualitative field research methods and research design.

Betty Lou worked with the University of Louisville for 18 years, as Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and Professor of Education while also serving as director of several educational research and outreach projects. She joined Columbia University’s Teachers College in 1999 as Professor of Education. She was a tenured full professor in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching and was Director of the National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools, and Teaching.

She became Dean and Professor of the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Southern Maine in 2002. In August, she became Dean and Wayne T. Smith Distinguished Professor of Auburn University’s College of Education.

Betty Lou has served as a consultant with numerous school districts and school and university partnerships. She has served as an advisor to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Lucent Technologies Foundation, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education’s Professional Development Schools Standards Project, the U.S. Office for Educational Research and Improvement, the Council of Chief State School Officers’ Arts Education Partnership, the Appalachian Educational Laboratory and the Schlechty Center for Leadership in School Reform.

Betty Lou has directed national conferences focused on professional development school partnerships at the University of Louisville and the impact of high-stakes testing at Columbia University. She has regularly presented scholarly papers at the American Educational Research Association’s annual meetings. She has served two terms as chair of the awards committee for the American Educational Research Association’s Division K: Teaching and Teacher Education. She has also served on the Division K program planning committee’s section on professional development.

She co-edited “Accountability, Assessment and Teacher Commitment: Lessons from Kentucky’s Reform Efforts,” published in 2000. She also co-edited “Teachers Learning in Community: Realities and Possibilities,” published earlier this year.

For her leadership in school reform and in building partnerships that bring the benefits of research to improving classroom instruction, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Education honors Dr. Betty Louise Whitford with its Alumni Achievement Award.