The Executive Committee of the Oregon Leadership Network (OLN) has named the GSE’s Patrick Burk as one of two recipients of the 2015 Tom Ruhl Leadership for Equity Award. Dr. Burk is an associate professor in the Educational Leadership and Policy Department. His co-winner is Dr. Velma Rose Johnson, ’80, who has a master’s in mathematics from PSU. They will be honored at the organization’s Spring Leadership Institute on April 21, 2015, at the Salem Convention Center.
“Through all the wide variety of ways he has served as a professional educator, he has always kept his eye foremost on the target of better, more equitable education for all students,” said GSE Dean Randy Hitz.
“Very few people in Oregon have had the statewide impact on education that Pat has,” said Rob Larson, director of the OLN. “Pat is an exemplar in leading for equity in Oregon. He is more humble than anybody I know, and he is very deserving of this statewide honor.”
Burk’s impact on education in Oregon transcends the courses he teaches in the GSE Educational Leadership and Policy Department. He has held administrative positions in Portland Public Schools and at the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and was the policy adviser for Susan Castillo when she was Oregon’s superintendent of public instruction. Burk led initial implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act and played key roles in several preK–12 educational initiatives across the state, including the redesign of the Oregon school report card and Oregon’s revised graduation requirements.
Since writing his doctorate in 1978, entitled Organizational Interaction in Alternative High Schools: Race, Personality and Role Perception, Burk has consistently focused on helping students at risk. That same year, he moved to Oregon to focus on alternative education. He held five positions as principal in Portland Public Schools and taught for Lewis & Clark College and PSU. He was named deputy superintendent of PPS in 2001 and moved to the ODE in 2002 to head federal programs.
While working for the state, Burk realized Oregon had amassed a wealth of longitudinal data that could be used in a much deeper way to determine preK–12 student outcomes. In moving to PSU to teach, Burk was able to focus on research and longitudinal analyses of multiple indicators and use this data to inform the strategies used by Oregon educators and policymakers, educational coalitions, and community-based partners to improve outcomes and help close the achievement gap.
“Being a part of this team and working within a department and a graduate school committed to these outcomes is what really makes anything I do possible,” said Burk. “I am only comfortable with this award within the context of our collective work in the Educational Leadership and Policy Department and the Graduate School of Education.”
The award is in memory of Tom Ruhl, a well-known leader in social justice and education in Oregon. He was an active member of the OLN for several years prior to serving as its chair in 2010–2011. He passed away on July 7, 2011. The award recognizes “educators who exemplify outstanding educator attributes and outstanding contributions to equity education in Oregon.”