America Loses National Leader and Exemplar of Good Character
WASHINGTON, March 22, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With great sadness, the Character Education Partnership (CEP) announces the death of its chairman emeritus, Sanford (Sandy) N. McDonnell.
"No other single American citizen has had a bigger impact in the field of character education than Sandy McDonnell," said CEP's President & CEO Mark Hyatt. "He changed and improved the lives of thousands and thousands of people, young and old, through his selfless service and leadership."
Mr. McDonnell served as Chairman of the CEP Board for 12 years and Chairman Emeritus until his death on March 19, at the age of 89. Under his leadership, the organization established a strategic framework to guide school leaders, called The 11 Principles of Effective Character Education. For 18 years, he was also the key figure behind the National Forum on Character Education, an event that connects educators from 45 states and 12-15 countries each year.
As the nation's leading advocate for improving school culture and social climate, Mr. McDonnell dedicated more than 25 years of his life to creating safe and caring environments that foster and reinforce integrity, respect, responsibility, hard work and academic excellence. His legacy is particularly prominent in Missouri, where he founded and served as board chairman of CHARACTERplus, a regional network that includes character development in over 600 schools, across more than 100 districts statewide.
Mr. McDonnell also served the state of Missouri through a variety of other wide-reaching philanthropic endeavors, including chairing the United Way for the Greater St. Louis Area campaign. He was honored for his efforts by being named the 1984 St. Louis Globe-Democrat Man of the Year, an honor his father received nearly 20 years earlier.
As a visionary and strategic leader, however, Sandy McDonnell looked far beyond making a positive difference in Missouri. At the urging of his wife, Priscilla – to whom he credits many of his accomplishments – he became a Scoutmaster of his local Boy Scout Troop to spend quality time with his son, Randy. Mr. McDonnell went on to become the National President of the Boy Scouts of America from 1984 to 1986.
Sandy's experiences in Scouting led him to develop a new, positive Code of Ethics at McDonnell Douglas Corporation, where he worked his way up to the position of Chairman and CEO in 1980. The McDonnell Douglas Code of Ethics later developed into one of the first comprehensive business ethics training programs in America, and in 1986, McDonnell Douglas became one of 32 original Defense Industry Initiative signatories.
Following his retirement from McDonnell Douglas in 1988, Mr. McDonnell joined a small group of citizen leaders to discuss what could be done nationally to develop good character in America's youth, and to improve all of its schools. As a result of their analysis, he became a founding leader of CEP, a national, Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that advocates for and focuses on intentional and comprehensive character development in schools.
Mr. McDonnell felt it was important to identify and recognize leadership and excellence in character education. He also understood the value of sharing effective strategies and best practices to help other schools. Sandy secured assistance from The John Templeton Foundation, Lockheed-Martin and others to support CEP's National Schools of Character program, which now includes more than 30 state-level affiliates.
Mr. McDonnell was also instrumental in redefining the concept of character in America's schools. Drawing on the work of scholars and researchers, he helped to expand the traditional view of moral character to include what is now widely known as "performance character," which includes supportive dimensions of human development like diligence, perseverance, positive attitude and the pursuit of excellence in school and all areas of life. Most recently, Mr. McDonnell was the driving force behind a white paper that makes the case for character and leadership development during the college years.
Dr. Charles Haynes, CEP's current Board Chairman, said, "Sandy McDonnell was the greatest exemplar of good character that I ever met. He was a role model, a mentor, a leader, a warm and compassionate human being, and somebody who brought out the best in everyone around him. We are a better nation and world because of Sandy McDonnell. All of us at CEP are committed to continuing our noble work to honor the legacy of this great man."
Sandy McDonnell earned degrees from Princeton University, the University of Colorado and Washington University in St. Louis. He was also awarded several honorary doctorate degrees from universities that admired his leadership, integrity and selfless service. During World War II, Sandy worked on America's nuclear weapons program. In 1948, he went to work for his uncle at McDonnell Aircraft. Over his remarkable career, he was involved in the development of several major U.S. weapons systems, and he eventually became Chairman and CEO of the company.
Sandy McDonnell is survived by his wife of over 60 years, Priscilla; his son and daughter-in-law Randy and Veronica McDonnell; his daughter and son-in-law, Robin and Dr. Paul MacVittie; his grandson, U.S. Air Force Captain William Sanford MacVittie; and his sister, Cherry McDonnell Lawrence. Details of Sandy McDonnell's funeral service will be posted on the CEP website, www.character.org, for those wishing to attend and pay their respects to his family.
SOURCE Character Education PartnershipBack to top