In 2017, ACU proudly welcomed one of Texas’ most esteemed leaders to our School of Educational Leadership: Dr. 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 Assistant Professor at the University of Texas Pan American, tenured Associate Professor at Lamar University, and Full Professor at Houston Baptist University. Prior to her work as a professor, she was a teacher and assistant principal, where she served in the LaMarque, Pasadena, and Aldine Independent School Districts.
We 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 ACU 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 and phone calls 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.
Jennifer is currently the President of the Texas Council of Professors of Educational Administration (TCPEA). Within influential organizations such as TCPEA, the Texas Alliance of Black School Educators (TABSE) and the National Association of African American Studies (NAAAS), she has sought to foster stronger connections by establishing and promoting a research exchange. 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.
Jennifer’s hard work has not gone unnoticed in the academic community. She was named Advocate of the Year by TCPEA in 2018. 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. In 2020, TCPEA recognized her as Educator of the Year. The award was established to recognize outstanding instruction in the field of educational leadership in Texas. The organization noted Jennifer’s dedication to teaching and the investment she has made in working with dissertation students.
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 taking time to listen, share scriptures, and pray.
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 educational administrators, but also future organizational leaders. Jennifer hopes to continue to build strong relationships with doctoral students.
Commitment to Greater Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Jennifer was recently appointed to become the first Director of Diversity for ACU Online. Among her duties in this new role, Jennifer will cultivate a supportive and inclusive work environment for all employees, create and drive forward strategies and practices that ensure commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion for employees and students, and promote opportunities for ongoing employee growth and professional development. She will coordinate her work with Dr. Stephanie Hamm, Chief Diversity Officer for the university.
Jennifer brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in diversity in the educational context. Her research and writing includes numerous publications on diversity in the educational setting including her third book titled, Addressing Issues of Systemic Racism During Turbulent Times, which will be published in 2022. This book comes on the heels of her 2018 book, Overcoming Challenges and Creating Opportunity For African American Male Students, which was featured in IGI Global’s July 2020 comprehensive digital brochure on Social Movements, Equality, Misinformation, and Civic Engagement.
We’re thrilled to have Jennifer Butcher’s insight and expertise at ACU — 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.
Original publication date: November 23, 2018
Updated: February 8, 2021