Skilton-Sylvester Named The Rosemary and Walter Blankley Endowed Chair in Education at Arcadia University

By Purnell T. Cropper | March 5, 2014

Dr. Ellen Skilton-Sylvester, professor of education and chair of the Department of Curriculum, Cultures, and Child/Youth Studies at Arcadia University, has been named the University’s Rosemary and Walter Blankley Endowed Chair in Education.

It is the first donor designated endowed chair in the University’s history. An investiture ceremony marking the appointment is scheduled at Arcadia on Thursday, March 6.

Skilton-Sylvester has proposed a three-year project, “Documenting and Creating Arts-Based Local/Global Civic Education,” which will use the arts and narrative analysis to expand and understand local/global civic education at Arcadia and across community and school contexts in the Philadelphia region, the Midwest, the south, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. It will develop new tools for globally focused teaching, learning, and scholarship that put imagination, creativity, and the arts (especially theater, storytelling, and creative writing) at the center.

“My experience with the Global Connections program at Arcadia has led me to believe that we need new and creative ways to engage with students—those at the center and at the margins—as they imagine ways to find agency and investment in belonging and taking action in local and global communities,” said Skilton-Sylvester. “The frame of local/global civic education creates opportunities for young people to imagine themselves as active, engaged, and informed participants in the world. As an educational anthropologist, I think about citizenship in relation to belonging and the ways that education, broadly defined, might create opportunities for belonging in deeper, more meaningful ways across cultural, geographic, linguistic, and temporal boundaries.”

Rosemary Deniken Blankley, a graduate of the Class of 1957 and 2006 honorary degree recipient, and her husband, Walter Blankley, have been fervent supporters of Arcadia for decades. The Blankleys donated $1 million to create The Rosemary and Walter Blankley Endowed Chair in Education.

Skilton-Sylvester is in her 10th year at Arcadia. Prior to joining Arcadia, she held a faculty position at Temple University, where she received the Distinguished Teaching Award in the College of Education. Skilton-Sylvester has published widely in areas of educational inclusivity, educational linguistics, biliteracy, and TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages), focusing particularly on Cambodian experiences in schools and communities in the United States. She has lectured and presented in the U.S., Sweden, South Korea, Barbados, and Japan and has led or helped facilitate grant projects that garnered more than $1 million in funding.

“As one of the leaders in the School of Education at Arcadia, Dr. Skilton-Sylvester is a most deserving recipient of this prestigious honor, and the University is proud to support her as chair,” said Dr. Nicolette DeVille Christensen, president of Arcadia. “Arcadia University offers its most sincere thanks and gratitude to Rosemary and Walter for their extraordinary support and generosity. Through their mission of making education accessible and transformative, the Blankleys have made and continue to make a tremendous impact on the lives of students and faculty.”

Skilton-Sylvester earned a bachelor’s degree at Earlham College in Richmond, Ind., and master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Pennsylvania.