Western taps Greensboro educator for Botner Professorship

CULLOWHEE – Western North Carolina school teachers will have an additional resource to turn to for assistance when noted educator and researcher David Strahan joins Western Carolina University as the Taft B. Botner Distinguished Professor in Elementary and Middle Grades Education this fall.

David Strahan

David Strahan

Strahan is currently a professor in the department of curriculum and instruction at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he also serves as director of the university’s Center for School Accountability, Staff Development and Teacher Quality. His appointment, effective Aug. 1, was approved by Western’s board of trustees during its June meeting.

A member of the UNCG faculty since 1984, Strahan previously served as middle grades program coordinator for the university’s department of curriculum and instruction, co-chair of the Triad University/School Teacher Education Partnership and interim director of the UNCG Teachers Academy.

He has more than 90 publications to his credit, and has presented extensively at national and regional conferences on educational issues related to middle level teaching and learning. Before coming to North Carolina, Strahan taught at State University College at Geneseo and the University of Cincinnati.

“I am looking forward to joining the faculty at Western Carolina University,” Strahan said. “I really appreciate the opportunity to help launch a new position like this one at an institution with such a rich tradition in teacher education.”

He earned his doctorate of education from the University of Cincinnati and his master’s degree in education and bachelor’s degree in English education from Miami University.

“David Strahan’s wealth of research experience in middle grades education will enable him to provide state-of-the-art consultation services to the middle schools in our region to assist in their attempts to provide quality education for their students,” said A. Michael Dougherty, dean of Western’s College of Education and Allied Professions. “He also will be able to create new research initiatives in middle grades education by collaborating with the faculty and staff in his department, and will provide technical assistance in grant writing.”

The Taft B. Botner Distinguished Professorship in Elementary and Middle Grades Education was endowed in the amount of $500,000 in 2003 through gifts from the estate of Botner, longtime dean of what is now the College of Education and Allied Professions. Botner, who died in September 2003, was a faculty member and administrator at Western for 25 years, including stints as professor, director of student teaching and teacher placement, and head of the department of teaching, before retiring in 1975.

During their lifetimes, Botner and wife Malvery Barker Botner, who died in 1991, contributed $100,000 to the university. The gifts led to a scholarship fund that annually provides awards to academically talented students in elementary education and reading, and to the Taft B. Botner Award for Superior Teaching, presented to an outstanding education professor at Western every year since 1982.

With the estate gifts, which included a home and property in Cullowhee, the Botners have given more than $600,000 to Western. Matching state funds through a program initiated by the General Assembly to encourage private support of public institutions of higher education push the total to more than $767,000.

For more information on endowed professorships, contact Jim Miller, associate vice chancellor for development, at (828) 227-7124.