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San Diego superintendent to receive Vanderbilt Peabody Distinguished Alumnus Award

May. 7, 2008, 4:35 PM

Terry B. Grier will receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of education and human development during Commencement ceremonies on Friday, May 9. Grier is the new superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District, in San Diego.

"In recent years, we have seen a growing emphasis on accountability in education, and the focus of this interest has begun to move up the chain of command—from the classroom to the principal’s and the superintendent’s office," Camilla P. Benbow, Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean of Education and Human Development, said. "Throughout his career, Terry Grier has modeled the traits of an effective and innovative school leader. He is highly deserving of this award."

A former classroom teacher and high school principal, Grier received his doctorate of education from Peabody in 1983.
"I am honored and humbled to receive Peabody’s Distinguished Alumnus Award," Grier said. "The award is a clear reflection on the quality educators with whom I’ve worked over the years."

The San Diego district serves more than 135,000 students and is the eighth largest public school district in the country. Grier, who became superintendent in March, previously was superintendent of Guilford County Schools in Greensboro, N.C., from 2000 to 2008. He has led school systems in Williamson County, Tenn.; Sacramento, Calif.; Akron, Ohio; Amarillo, Texas; Darlington County, S.C.; and McDowell County, N.C.

Under Grier, the Greensboro district saw significant increases in its high school graduation rates, in the number of students taking Advanced Placement exams and the number of students taking algebra by eighth grade. Percentages of students, both white and minorities, scoring at or above grade level on end-of-grade tests in math and science improved as well. Grier also oversaw the introduction of several middle college and early college high schools.

Grier has been president of the Horace Mann League of America, Inc., and the North Carolina Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development. He is a member of the board of directors of the National Dropout Prevention Network and has also served on the board of directors of the National School Public Relations Association. In addition, he has been a member of the National Coca-Cola Scholars Selection Committee and the Membership Committee of The College Board.

Grier has been recognized by the North Carolina Association of School Administrators and the North Carolina School Boards Association as North Carolina Superintendent of the Year, by East Carolina University as Outstanding Alumnus, and by the Horace Mann League as a Friend of the League.

The author of more than 50 articles in education journals and a frequent speaker at national and state conferences, Grier has been featured in Education Week, Urban Educator and Scholastic Administr@tor. He has also served as an adjunct professor at several universities, including Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt’s Peabody College was ranked as the No. 2 education school in the nation by U.S. News & World Report in 2008. For more information about Peabody, visit

Media contact: Melanie Moran, (615) 322-NEWS