Given to an individual who, throughout his or her life, has displayed a clear direction in recognizing and respecting the dignity of the human person in the spirit of the Cabrini tradition, the Compass Award recognizes those whose extended, continuous service serves to promote and defend dignity for all.
2020 Compass Award Recipient
Ronald W. Whitaker, II, EdD, joined Cabrini in 2015, and currently serves as Assistant Professor of Education, Assistant Dean for the School of Education, Director of District and School Relations, and Director for the Center for Urban Education, Equity, and Improvement. He specializes in culturally responsive pedagogy, urban education, educational programming for Black males, the psychology of race and racism, and issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Whitaker presents his research at both national and international scholarly conferences, and within K-12 educational spaces. He is revered amongst colleagues for engaging in “courageous conversations” in a respectful manner. For 15 years, he has led various programming for Black boys and men. Whitaker has been involved in prison ministry for five years and speaks regularly in churches and community organizations.
Recently, Whitaker was instrumental in forming a partnership between Cabrini and the School District of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania’s pilot program Aspiring to Educate, which aims to increase the diversity and number of teachers in the Commonwealth. The program is in alignment with Cabrini’s own Diversity and Equity within the Education Profession (DEEP) IMPACT initiative, also championed by Whitaker.
Whitaker completed his doctoral degree in Educational Leadership at Duquesne University, where his dissertation explored the intersection of Black male identity, systemic inequalities and racism, and improvement science, through the lens of social justice. He also earned a master’s degree in Education at the University of Pennsylvania, a master’s degree in Business Administration at Eastern University, and undergraduate degrees in Urban Leadership and Biblical Studies at Geneva College, where he graduated magna cum laude. Additionally, Whitaker also earned a Certificate in Culturally Responsive Pedagogy from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and is in the process of completing a certificate in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University
The Center for Urban Education, Equity, and Improvement
Founded in 2017 under the leadership of Ronald W. Whitaker, EdD, the Center builds and disseminates pertinent data about the equity and improvement of urban education, partnering with pre-K̶16, corporate, state, nonprofit, and community-based institutions to provide specialized training for current and aspiring teachers and educational leaders.
The Center’s main goal is to provide courageous and transformational leadership to students and communities who are most underserved, disadvantaged, and/or disenfranchised. The Center provides specialized training for teachers, educational leaders, and community members who want to transform urban education.
Each year the Center for Urban Education, Equity, and Improvement hosts the Shirley Dixon Celebration of Urban Education Symposium, honoring Shirley Walker Dixon (’84, MEd’89, EdD’18), who was a Cabrini Trustee, faculty member, and longtime advocate for ensuring students receive an equitable education. Dixon is also one of the recipients of the Christopher Awards for Extraordinary Leadership at this year’s Gala.
The Symposium has created engaging discussions about national data on urban education and addressed the moral imperatives that educators and leaders need to assume in order to change and improve the educational landscape. Keynote speakers have included prominent anti-racist writer and educator Tim Wise and H. Richard Milner IV, PhD, a University of Pittsburgh professor and researcher who examines practices and policies that support teacher success in urban schools.