Charles Butt announces a leadership institute for Texas public school administrators

(Austin, Texas) ­-H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt has announced the creation of The Holdsworth Center, a premier leadership institute based in Austin, Texas with the goal of supporting and developing public school leaders in order to improve, over time, the quality of education offered to every child in every classroom in Texas.

The Holdsworth Center will work with districts over a 5-year period to empower individual leaders — including superintendents, principals and key administrators — to reach their fullest potential. The Center staff and faculty will also assist districts in establishing a common vision and roadmap for identifying, cultivating and supporting future leaders.

The Holdsworth Center will operate as a non-profit organization and Mr. Butt has pledged to invest more than $100 million in its creation. The Center will be governed by a 17-member board chaired by Dr. Ruth Simmons , who served as president of Smith College from 1995 to 2001 and as president of Brown University from 2001 to 2012.

The Holdsworth Center’s first program will begin in June with six school districts. Anywhere from 15 to 20 districts will be invited to apply by Feb. 1 and notified of selection by the end of March.
A staunch advocate for public education, Mr. Butt founded The Holdsworth Center to create sustainable improvement in Texas schools. The Center is named after Mr. Butt’s mother, Mary Elizabeth Holdsworth Butt, an educator, philanthropist and lifelong leader for social justice.

Almost two years ago, Mr. Butt convened a group of national and statewide experts to study innovative approaches to cultivating great leadership in a school setting. Comprised of philanthropic and business leaders, as well as practitioners, this group traveled the globe to identify best practices and provide a recommendation for The Holdsworth Center’s approach. They visited places of interest as far away as Singapore with proven methods for instilling positive change.

Through a unique set of experiences including international travel, exposure to the best leadership experts in the country, facilitated lectures with renowned faculty and group discussion, participants at The Holdsworth Center will explore their personal leadership in a setting that promotes reflection, thought and dialogue. Classes and team projects will focus on critical topics such as change management, effective teaming, board relations and best practices in talent management, to name a few.

“The Holdsworth Center is about helping people be extraordinary in the job they are in today,” said Charles Butt. “In addition, we want them to re-invent the way future leaders are selected, developed and supported within their districts so that when a position opens up, they have a tremendous bench from which to select the next super star.”

Until a permanent site is identified and the academic campus which will become home to Holdsworth is complete, the program will rotate among conference centers located near the selected districts to give superintendents an opportunity to visit and learn from each other as well as world-class faculty from around the country.

The need for support for our public schools is urgent. The academic skills of American students have been slipping in relation to other countries since 2000, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. In 2000, the U.S. ranked 15 th in reading, 19 th in math and 14 th in science. In 2015, those rankings had fallen to 24 th in reading, 40 th in math and 25 th in science.

Within the U.S., Education Week’s Research Center recently ranked Texas 43 rd in the nation for student achievement on its annual “Quality Counts” Report.

“Texas’s 1,204 independent school districts serve approximately 5.3 million students, 10 percent of children in the entire nation. With our size comes a tremendous responsibility to provide the highest quality education to all students,” said Charles Butt. “The Holdsworth Center will help to ensure we have inspired and enlightened leaders at every level within the education system making daily decisions that positively impact the future of our students and the state.”