Foundation History

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Andrew CarnegieFounded by Andrew Carnegie in 1905 and chartered in 1906 by an act of Congress, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has a long and distinguished history. It is an independent policy and research center, whose primary activities of research and writing have resulted in published reports on every level of education. Eight presidents have guided the Foundation through its history, each bringing unique shape to its work. Influential Foundation achievements include development of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA), publication of the Flexner Report on medical education, creation of the Carnegie Unit, founding of the Educational Testing Service, and establishment of the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The Carnegie Foundation was a leader in the effort to provide federal aid for higher education, including Pell Grants, which assist low- and middle-income students.

Presidential Highlights

Carnegie Board of Trustees photoHenry Pritchett secured the Congressional charter in 1906 and broadened the Foundation's mission to include work in education policy and standards. John W. Gardner became president in 1955 concurrent with his presidency of the Carnegie Corporation of New York. His focus was on balancing quality and equity. Alan Pifer, again president of both the Foundation and the Corporation, established a task force in 1967 under the leadership of Clark Kerr. Under Kerr's direction, the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education and the Carnegie Council on Policy Studies in Higher Education produced more than 160 policy reports, research studies and technical reports that helped define key federal policies and programs in higher education and student financial aid.

The Rebirth of an Independent Carnegie Foundation

With Ernest L. Boyer's appointment as president in 1979, the Foundation separated from the Carnegie Corporation, which had supported it during a period of financial problems. It became an independent institution and eventually moved to Princeton, N.J. During Boyer's tenure, the Foundation maintained its interest in higher education and broadened its work to recognize the interconnection of all stages in the educational experience. Landmark policy reports, including High School: A Report on Secondary Education in America and College: The Undergraduate Experience in America, involved the Foundation in the national debate and activities around school reform and strengthening colleges and universities. Boyer's influential report, Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate, laid the groundwork for a broader definition of scholarship, which has become common parlance at universities around the United States and the world.

The Move West

In the summer of 1997, with Lee S. Shulman at the helm, the Foundation relocated from Princeton to its current home in California. Shulman’s vision for the Foundation was to create a “Bellagio” or Center for Advanced Study for teachers, and Carnegie’s efforts would grow from the work on the scholarship of teaching begun during Boyer’s tenure.

The Foundation would also continue the work Shulman and others had begun with the American Association for Higher Education since the early 1990s on teaching as “community property” and as a scholarly practice in a community of peers. In 2003, the Foundation moved into a facility designed especially for its work in the foothills behind Stanford University. This center for teaching and teachers became the perfect setting for teachers from all levels of education, from kindergarten through the doctorate, to join with resident scholars to examine their practice and build new knowledge, bringing teachers beyond previous models of inquiry that engage them only as objects of study.

Many of Carnegie’s programs under Shulman’s tenure continued the work of earlier Foundation scholars and researchers. And the foundation revisited work done in its infancy with programs on the education of physicians, teachers and engineers, adding nursing and clergy education to the studies. The Foundation also took on new investigations; into studies of moral and civic education, student political engagement and liberal and doctoral education. In the first decade of the 21st century, the fastest growing segment of American higher education, enrolling more than 46 percent of all U.S. undergraduates, is the community colleges. The Foundation initiated a major effort to boost the success of students in that segment of higher education.

A New Direction

In September 2008, Anthony S. Bryk, whose work has informed and inspired school reform efforts, was named the ninth president of the Foundation. Bryk has taken the Foundation in a new direction.  At the core is a new vision of educational research and development called Design-Educational Engineering-Development (DEED) that has the capacity to bring real improvement at scale to critical, high-leverage problems of teaching and learning.

The Foundation's commitment to catalyzing centers of engineering-like work on high-leverage problems of practice in education entails two key elements: "learning by doing" how DEED can be effectively undertaken, and building accounts of how to conduct DEED that others can learn from and use. Together, these two elements frame the Foundation as a "double-loop" learning organization, one that can both do the work and learn how both the Foundation and others can do it better in the future.