Leadership for Responsible Citizenship

Frank Newman Headshot

Frank Newman was a passionate advocate for broadening opportunities for diverse and economically challenged students to have access to a college education. He was equally passionate in his advocacy for educating students to fulfill their roles as active citizens. Frank said, “The most important thing an institution does is not to prepare a student for a career, but for a life as a citizen.”

Frank worked throughout his career to promote educational opportunity and to strengthen education for active and effective citizenship. Frank’s accomplishments — the agendas he set, the organizations he founded and revitalized — comprise only part of his legacy. What was most special about Frank was his way of being in the world. With honesty and jaunty humor, he insisted that problems should be forthrightly acknowledged. With relentless optimism, he was convinced that solutions could be found. With awesome energy, he put himself at the service of others — constantly traveling to speak out or serve on boards and advisory groups. And with deep humanity, he regarded each person as a unique individual, and always managed to have time to listen and to mentor.

Frank turned problems into opportunities, projects into exhilarating expeditions, and organizations into enterprises in the nation’s service. He exemplified what a life dedicated to responsible citizenship can entail. Through this award, we seek to support students who strive to make a positive impact on the world in a similar way.

A Life of Public Service and Educational Leadership

After serving his country in WW II and working in industry in California, Frank arrived at Stanford University to earn his doctorate. While at Stanford, Frank was asked by the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare to organize a task force on higher education policy. His Report on Higher Education (The Newman Report) stirred a national debate. Frank then put his ideas into practice as the President of the University of Rhode Island (1974-1983).

As a scholar in residence at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (1983-1985), Frank authored Higher Education and the American Resurgence and called for a GI Bill for Community Service.

Frank co-founded Campus Compact with the presidents of Stanford University, Brown University, and Georgetown University (1985) to foster students’ involvement in public service and as democratic change-agents. Campus Compact has since grown to represent more than 1100 college and university presidents committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education. When Frank became president of the Education Commission of the States (1985-1999), he worked with the nation’s governors on a far-ranging agenda of issues including at-risk youth, teacher quality, and education reform.

Later Frank returned to Brown University to teach a course on leadership, serve on the Board of Trustees, and organize The Futures Project. He called attention to the impact of market forces, new providers, and global competition on the higher education industry. Frank exemplified a life of public service and educational leadership. With the Frank Newman Leadership Fund we hope to pass along a spark of Frank’s energy and commitment to future generations.

See also: Chronicle of Higher Education: For Frank Newman, Anything Was Possible