William C. Bosher Jr., former dean of the VCU School of Education, dies

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William C. Bosher Jr., Ed.D., founder and executive director of the Commonwealth Educational Policy Institute in the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs and former dean of the School of Education at Virginia Commonwealth University, died in his sleep Sunday evening. He was 68.

"Across his long and distinguished public education career, Bill Bosher had a powerful and positive impact on the quality of public education in Virginia,” said Christine Walther-Thomas, Ph.D., dean of the School of Education. “His innovative thinking, wise and well-informed insights, good humor and passion for the work will be sorely missed. His leadership efforts on behalf of all Virginia children and youth will be long remembered and much appreciated.”

Bosher also served as a distinguished professor of public policy and education in the Wilder School. Dean Niraj Verma, Ph.D., announced Bosher’s passing to faculty members Monday morning.

“It is with great sadness that I write that our dear colleague and friend, Dr. Bill Bosher, passed away in his sleep last night,” Verma wrote. 

“Bill was an extraordinary citizen of the Wilder School and was much loved by all. A widely ranging intellectual who cared deeply for practical consequences, Dr. Bosher was a champion for knowledge that makes a difference. The Wilder School has lost a true policy expert, gentleman, and friend,” Verma added.

Bosher has been a teacher, principal, state director, superintendent of the Henrico and Chesterfield school districts and the superintendent of public instruction for the commonwealth of Virginia. He was the only superintendent in Virginia to be twice named “superintendent of the year” and was voted the arts administrator of the year by the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. He also served on five public and private university boards of trustees.

“He had the well-earned reputation of being a thoughtful, creative, and respected educational leader in Virginia, who did as much as anyone I know to help ensure that generations of young Virginians had every chance to pursue their dreams,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D.  “He dedicated his life to this greatest possible mission: teaching and mentoring young people who would become the future of Virginia and who would advance the human experience in the commonwealth and beyond.”  

While Bosher was a true policy wonk, his focus was always on the educational needs of children, said Michael Davis, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning. 

“Bill was responsible for developing a strong partnership between the VCU School of Education and the surrounding school divisions that led to professional development, research and service collaborations,” Davis said. “Bill had a great faith and was a loving and caring family man. The fact that he grew up in Hanover County, lived and worked his whole life in the Greater Richmond area and rose to be state superintendent of public instruction is remarkable in and of itself.”

During his tenure in the School of Education, Bosher created the Student Services Center, bringing all student services such as admissions, advising and clinical placements together into one office so they were more accessible to students. 

“Bill was a dedicated student advocate — he sincerely cared about students,” said Diane Simon, Ph.D., senior associate dean for student affairs in the School of Education. “Bill was a visionary leader and was always thoughtful, kind and humanistic in his approach to problem-solving and tackling difficult issues.  

“He was a master at multitasking — focusing on the needs of the School of Education while being actively involved in the community.  He was a powerful voice for education, and he responded to a community that leaned on him and depended on his expertise and voice.  He had a powerful and positive impact on K-12 education in the commonwealth and was an effective higher education administrator and professor.  He was admired and highly respected by his students and colleagues.”

In addition to his leadership roles, Bosher served as a consultant in more than 35 states and 12 foreign countries on topics related to educational law and finance, policy analysis, standards development, school evaluations and human relations. 

Bosher has written more than 40 articles and has co-authored two books on school law and educational leadership: “Law and Education: Contemporary Issues and Court Decisions” and “The School Law Handbook, What Every Leader Needs to Know.”

Bosher earned an Ed.D. in educational administration from the University of Virginia as well as a B.A. in English from the University of Richmond and an M.Ed. in counselor education from VCU.

“Bill dedicated his life to changing lives, and we are all testament to his wonderful legacy,” Rao said. “We will always remember his extraordinary kindness, his heart-warming smile, and how compassionate and caring he was to every person he met. He will be missed.”

Bosher is survived by his wife, Jo Anne Tucker Bosher; children W. Cleveland Bosher III, Matthew P. Bosher and Joy Krawczel; brother L. Paul Bosher and seven grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are incomplete at this time.


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