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Robert F. Sexton, Ph.D.

Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence

Robert F. Sexton has been the executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence since its creation in 1983. A Louisville native, he has also been the deputy director of the Kentucky Council on Higher Education, an administrator at the University of Kentucky and a professor of history.

A graduate of Yale University, Sexton earned his Ph.D. in history from the University of Washington. He was a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University and at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University. He has been recognized widely for his efforts to improve public education, receiving the Charles A. Dana Award for Pioneering Achievement and honorary degrees from Berea College, Georgetown College, and Eastern Kentucky University. The Louisville Courier-Journal wrote that Sexton is Kentucky’s “incomparable public policy advocate.” Kentucky Monthly magazine identified him as one of the most influential Kentuckians of the twentieth century.

Dr. Sexton was a founder of Kentucky's Governor's Scholars Program and the Commonwealth Institute for Teachers. He was also the founder and president of the Kentucky Center for Public Issues and publisher of The Kentucky Journal. He chaired the board that created the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning in Lexington. He is on numerous boards, including the Kentucky Long-Term Policy Research Center, the School Curriculum, Assessment and Accountability Council, and the New Opportunity School for Women. He was a founding board member of the Kentucky Institute for Education Research and served on the Governor’s Task Force on Early Childhood.

At the national level Sexton serves the boards of Editorial Projects in Education (publishers of Education Week and Teacher Magazine), the Education Trust, and the Consortium for Policy Research in Education. He has served on advisory groups for the BellSouth, Danforth, and Ford foundations and for the Public Education Network (PEN). He was a member of the Saguaro Seminar on civic engagement sponsored by Harvard University. He has also served on the boards of the Trust for Early Education, Education Commission of the States, American Association for Higher Education, the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, and he founded the Coalition for Alternatives in Postsecondary Education.

His book Mobilizing Citizens for Better Schools, was published in early 2004 by Teachers College Press of Columbia University.

He lives in Lexington with his wife, Pam Papka Sexton. They have five grown children; all attended Kentucky public schools.

The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence is an independent, state-wide, non-partisan, advocacy group dedicated to the improvement of education for all Kentuckians.

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