WMU News

State superintendent to speak at education alumni forum

Oct. 12, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- The Western Michigan University College of Education Alumni Society and Phi Delta Kappa, an international professional educators association, will welcome Thomas D. Watkins Jr., Michigan's public instruction superintendent, to an event at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 23 at WMU's Fetzer Center.

The annual dinner is aimed at parents, teachers, school administrators and other stakeholders in public education. Watkins' address, titled "From Where I Sit: Direction of Public Education in the Next 10 Years," should be especially interesting, says Mary Ellen Agar who chairs the event.

"We need to know where we're heading and what the state has in mind for us," she says. "It's essential that our children be educated properly, and teachers, as well as parents, need to know where we're going."

Watkins, who considers himself a strong advocate for quality, public education, served in former Gov. Jim Blanchard's administration as deputy chief of staff and as director of the Michigan Department of Mental Health. Most recently he worked as president and chief executive officer of the Economic Council of Palm Beach County, Fla. The Economic Council is a coalition of 135 top CEOs dedicated to improving the quality of life for Palm Beach County's residents and businesses. Concurrently, he served as executive director, of the Education Partnership of Palm Beach County from 1996-1999. This spring, Watkins was named superintendent by Michigan's State Board of Education.

In addition to having dinner, participants will have an opportunity to talk with Watkins about the future of public education. Reservations are $20 per person and must be made by Oct. 18. Reservations can be made by contacting Gregory A. Moorehead in WMU's Office of Alumni Relations at (616) 387-8775.

Media contact: Gail Towns, 616 387-8400, gail.towns@wmich.edu

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