John Cawthorne, former associate dean of the Lynch School of Education (LSOE), passed away from cancer at the age of 70 in August. Cawthorne, an expert in urban education and a popular faculty member and administrator, retired from Boston College in the spring of 2012 after serving for 13 years as associate dean for students and outreach.
“John Cawthorne was a tremendous advocate for our students both inside and outside of the classroom,” Lynch School Interim Dean Maureen Kenny said in a release by the Office of News and Public Affairs. “His passing is a tremendous loss to our community, but the impact of his work and his dedication to the Lynch School will live on through the accomplishments of the many persons whose lives were transformed by his heart and his spirit.”
As a faculty member, Cawthorne provided a mentoring relationship to hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students, in addition to organizing the school’s extensive practicum programs through the Office of Professional Practicum Experiences.
In April 2011, an event was held celebrating Cawthorne’s services to the students of the University.
At the event, Bryan Ramos, BC ’10, recalled how he had once asked Dean Cawthorne the easiest way to transfer out of the Lynch School. “He simply looked at me with a blank stare, like he normally does, and goes, ‘You won’t want to.’ And five years later, John is my mentor. He’s definitely influenced my passion to want to go into a higher education institution, and be the dean that he is and was for me.”
Cawthorne joined the LSOE in 1989, working in the Center for the Study of Testing, Evaluation, and Educational Policy as a research associate, advocating for initiatives in urban education. As a consultant, he worked with school systems in urban environments nationwide.
Cawthorne also served as vice president for education of the National Urban League (NUL) in 1995. After his appointment, he spoke of the importance of community building in urban communities.
“By taking advantage of the natural alliances between parents and teachers, we will help bridge the gap between communities and schools,” he said, “and that gap is wide in urban communities. The issue is how do we work with schools and families to create new structures-structures that incorporate and reflect home, community and school experiences and priorities.”
Cawthorne was awarded the Mary Kaye Waldron Award in 2002. The award recognizes a BC faculty member who has done the most to enhance student life at the University.
In addition, in 2003, LSOE established the John E. Cawthorne Chair in Teacher Education for Urban Schools. The position is awarded to a LSOE faculty member who works to enhance the education of teachers for urban schools, as Cawthorne did throughout his adult life.