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ACU Online Faculty Spotlight: Jennifer Butcher

By on November 23, 2018 in Spotlights - Faculty with 0 Comments

ACU - Faculty Spotlight - Jennifer Butcher

Last year, ACU proudly welcomed one of Texas’ most esteemed leaders to our School of Educational Leadership: Jennifer Butcher. A key player in the Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership program, Jennifer brings a strong background to ACU. She earned both her Master of Education in Educational Administration and Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership from Prairie View A&M University. Additionally, she has made her mark as an associate and adjunct professor at Houston Baptist University and Lamar University. Prior to her work as a professor, she was a teacher and principal in the LaMarque, Pasadena, and Aldine Independent School Districts.

We recently chatted with Jennifer about her background in education, her passion for online learning, and how she infuses a Christian worldview into her work with aspiring educators, administrators, and organizational leaders. Read on to learn more about one of our most passionate and relatable professors.

The Welcoming Abilene Environment
There’s plenty to love about ACU, but Jennifer is perhaps most appreciative of the friendly, welcoming environment she’s encountered. “Sometimes you go into an environment — a new setting — and you’re not sure. I can say that [my time at ACU] has been different because everybody’s so friendly and open and loving.”

Jennifer’s warm welcome at ACU has been particularly rewarding given that she took this job purely for herself — not in hopes of being near family, as had been the case with previous positions. She admits, “This was the job I wanted — and it’s for me.”

Passion for Online Academia
In the lecture hall or over the internet, Jennifer enjoys connecting with students who share her love of learning. She regards face-to-face interaction as the primary benefit of traditional classroom courses — but acknowledges that these interactions can easily be recreated in a virtual setting. With online coursework, technological tools such as Zoom and Cadence allow her to interact with students on a more personal level. Ultimately, however, she’s simply happy to teach, no matter where or how.

“I’ve learned through the years that it really doesn’t matter…what setting you teach in. It’s the impact that you make on your students — and I enjoy teaching no matter if it’s face-to-face or online.”

Promoting Student Involvement
Determined to build meaningful connections among students and faculty members, Jennifer works hard to establish a culture of involvement. Whether students attend classes online or in person, she believes that they should feel closely connected to their academic institution and those who make it thrive.

Within influential organizations such as the Texas Council of Professors of Educational Administration (TCPEA) and the International Council of Professors of Educational Leaders (ICPEL), she has sought to foster stronger connections by establishing and promoting a research exchange. Students involved in this exchange share their research with the many professors and administrators who attend TCPEA’s conferences. Jennifer regards such exchanges as a “great way not only for [students] to share their research, but [also] for them to promote the university.”

Jennifer’s efforts to expand student involvement do not end with her encouraging students to present at conferences. She continues to support students long after they’ve agreed to present their research. Often, she collaborates directly with students on presentations or related publications.  She takes pride in these ongoing relationships: “I have a lot of former students who are superintendents and we still email and communicate because I don’t want to lose that relationship with the student.”

Jennifer’s hard work has not gone unnoticed in the academic community. She was recently named Advocate of the Year by TCPEA. This is high praise, as TCPEA boasts the finest professors and educational administrators in the state. Jennifer’s award was granted in recognition of her work in student advocacy — specifically, her promotion of student involvement.

The Role of a Christian Worldview
While Jennifer has thrived in both public and private education, she appreciates her current ability to openly share and celebrate her faith. When discussing personal struggles with students, she makes a point of letting them know that she intends to pray for them.

She acknowledges that ACU’s doctoral program is “founded on the competencies of personal development, resource development, collaboration, communication, organizational assessment, and organizational culture,” but Jennifer also points out that these elements are based on the “foundation of Christian vocation.” She feels this is particularly important in light of the benefit the doctoral program provides, not only for aspiring teachers and administrators, but also future organizational leaders.

Looking ahead, Jennifer hopes to continue to build strong relationships with doctoral students. A bright spot in the near future: the publication of her second book, Overcoming Challenges and Creating Opportunity For African American Male Students. She explains that her new book will offer “insight on how [African American students] can be successful and how they have been successful.”

We’re thrilled to have Jennifer Butcher’s insight and expertise in the ACU School of Educational Leadership — and excited to see her build an even stronger community both on campus and off.

For more information on how ACU Online’s extraordinary faculty members can help you pursue your career goals, contact us at 855.219.7300 or acu.edu/online.

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