Douglas Wood, Ed.M.’96, Ed.D.’00, is the 2018 recipient of the Alumni Council Award for Outstanding Contribution to Education. Wood is currently a senior fellow on justice and equity at the Aspen Institute. Prior, he was a program officer for global grants at the Ford Foundation. As the acting lead on the Ford Foundation’s global Higher Education for Social Justice Initiative, he managed grants in the United States, Latin America, Southern Africa, Egypt, and China.
"I am delighted that Douglas Wood was selected to be the 2018 recipient of the Alumni Council Award," said Dean James E. Ryan. “There are few individuals who can match the breadth of his service to the field of education. Douglas has been a successful teacher, researcher, policymaker, and leader, and the diversity of his experiences has made him an especially powerful advocate for our nation’s most vulnerable students. For example, through his grant-making work at the Ford Foundation, Douglas has boosted efforts to improve college graduate rates for low-income and first-gen students. I'm grateful to the Alumni Council for recognizing Douglas Wood's contributions to the field.”
Wood, who will serve as the featured speaker at the Commencement exercises at his undergraduate alma mater Wofford College, will be presented with the award at the HGSE Convocation ceremony on May 23.
“I was thrilled and honored when I heard that I was selected as this year’s Alumni Council Award winner,” said Wood. “With so many amazing award winners from previous years who have contributed greatly — and continue to contribute — to improve education and our national life, I was certainly delighted and humbled.”
The Alumni Council selected Wood as this year’s recipient for his tireless work to ensure that low-income, first-generation college students receive high-quality postsecondary education, including his continued efforts in improving high school and college completion rates.
“The Alumni Council selected the extraordinarily talented Doug Wood for our 2018 Alumni Council Award Winner for his far reaching contributions in the field of education, and his relentless commitment to bringing opportunities to the under-served,” said Alumni Council Chair Abigayil Joseph, Ed.M.’99. “He has a consistent track record that reflects his deep belief that education can be the anchor to break the inter-generational cycle of poverty, whether it be through his work to pass the groundbreaking early childhood legislation in Tennessee, or that today every single prisoner in the State of California has access to a high quality college education, to name a few. Doug embodies the spirit of this award as a thoughtful, collaborative, execution-oriented leader working tirelessly at the HGSE vision to change the world.”
Wood’s impressive career in education began as a public school teacher. He has also worked as executive director and chief education officer of the Tennessee State Board of Education; chair of the Basic Education Program Review Committee that oversees Tennessee’s $3.2 billion K–12 budget; a member of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission; a fellow at the Elliott School of International Affairs, Georgetown University; principal investigator of the National Academy for Excellent Teaching, Teachers College, Columbia University; and associate dean of administration and planning at Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, The New School.
His most recent work is focused on criminal justice reform and enhancing educational equity for the incarcerated. “It means a great deal to receive this award at this point in my career given my focus in recent years on criminal justice reform and advocating and supporting high quality educational opportunities for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals — particularly for women in prison and girls of color who are being criminalized in greater numbers in America’s schools,” he said. “I hope this award will bring greater attention to these issues.”
The Alumni Council Award for Outstanding Contribution to Education began in 1985 in order to recognize significant service to education by alumni. Candidates must be graduates of HGSE and have made a noteworthy contribution to education during their professional careers in order to be nominated.