Stanford alumni honored for transforming education

Stanford Graduate School of Education is honoring three of its most distinguished graduates with its inaugural Alumni Excellence in Education Award.

The recipients — JONATHAN JANSEN, HELEN KIM and CARLA PUGH — have pursued careers that, respectively, enhanced civil rights in higher education worldwide, offered new opportunities for secondary students in East Palo Alto, California, and pioneered new simulation technology for surgical and medical education.

“Our alumni are advancing the field of education as practitioners, policy makers, scholars and leaders,” said DEBORAH STIPEK, dean of Stanford Graduate School of Education. “This award is meant to recognize and call attention to the transformative work that they are doing.”

Here’s a snapshot of the recipients:

Jonathan Jansen

Jansen, PhD ’91, is vice-chancellor and rector – the highest academic position – at one of South Africa’s most prominent universities. Since 2009 he has been at the helm of the University of the Free State, which has three campuses and more than 31,000 students. A strong proponent of intellectual freedom and a prolific education scholar, he has taken bold steps to reconcile racial strife at the school and create a more integrated university community. A native South African who worked as a high school science teacher during apartheid, he enrolled in the GSE’s international education program in 1987 and wrote his doctoral dissertation on curriculum reform in Zimbabwe. His most recent book, Knowledge in the Blood, received an outstanding book recognition award from the American Educational Research Association.

Helen Kim


Kim, BA  ’92, MA ’93, co-founded Eastside College Preparatory School in East Palo Alto with a Stanford classmate after they had completed the GSE’s Stanford Teacher Education Program. A gifted educator and administrator, Kim has dedicated her life’s work to addressing issues of equity and social justice by advancing the futures of low-resourced students. Eastside opened in 1996 with eight freshmen; it now enrolls about 330 students in grades 6 through 12, almost all of whom are the first in their families to be college bound. Virtually 100 percent of its graduates have been admitted to four-year colleges, and the college graduation of its alumni vastly surpasses the national average. National education reform groups such as Teach for America and the KIPP schools have visited Eastside to learn from its success. Kim, vice principal, is widely credited with developing the culture of achievement that has defined the school’s character and opened new doors for its graduates.


Carla Pugh

Pugh, MD, PhD ’01, an inventor and prolific researcher, is advancing the way medical students and physicians learn by developing new systems to assess their clinical skills and improve their performance. She is the vice chair of education and patient safety in the Department of Surgery at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, as well as clinical director of the University of Wisconsin Health Clinical Simulation Program. Her studies of sensors and human-computer interactions at the GSE led to her inventions of simulation technologies that are used in medical and nursing schools around the world. In 2011, she received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers for her research on a sensor device that judges whether doctors are performing breast exams correctly.

Jansen, Kim and Pugh were among a group of outstanding, accomplished alumni who were nominated for the award by their peers. Members of the faculty, Stipek and a committee of alumni reviewed thick portfolios for each candidate before making the final selection. The winners will be formally recognized at a reception on Oct. 23 during Reunion Homecoming Weekend.

“These three alumni represent the breadth and depth of the GSE’s impact from local to global, from kindergarten through higher education and from classroom teaching to the latest technologies,” said Stipek. “We are proud to have the opportunity to celebrate their contributions to the field of education.” Each will receive an honorarium from a generous Stanford family that cares deeply about raising the profile of education and teaching in society.

The original story is posted on the Graduate School of Education’s news website.