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December 17, 2007

NIET Mourns Passing of Lewis C. Solmon

Lewis C. Solmon, a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago who applied his talents for research and analysis to a career dedicated to education reform in our nation’s schools, has died at age 65 as the result of a stroke. Solmon was president of the Santa Monica-based National Institute for Excellence in Teaching — a nonprofit launched in 2005 to operate the Teacher Advancement Program, a comprehensive system to revitalize the American teaching profession and close achievement gaps, which he helped to expand nationwide.

In 1974, Solmon first joined UCLA as executive officer of the Higher Education Research Institute. From 1985-91, he was dean of the Graduate School of Education at UCLA, where he continued as professor emeritus. Solmon was the first president of the Milken Institute, an economic think tank, before joining the Milken Family Foundation in 1997 to focus on teacher quality, evaluation, performance-based compensation and other key issues related to education.

"Lew never wavered in his steadfast dedication and commitment to the pursuit of a high-quality education for all students," said Lowell Milken, chairman of the Milken Family Foundation and founder of the Teacher Advancement Program. "His expertise was complemented by his leadership and coalition building that brought together educators, union leaders, policymakers, foundations and corporations, all in the interest of improving educational opportunities for teachers and students."

Solmon advised numerous governors and state superintendents of instruction in the area of teacher quality. At the time of his death, he served on the advisory boards of Governor Schwarzenegger’s Committee on Education Excellence and the National Council on Teacher Quality. He was also a board member of the Center for Education Reform in Washington, D.C., the Milken Family Foundation, and BASIS Charter School in Tucson, AZ. Solmon was president of Santa Monica-based Human Resources Policy Corporation. Formerly, he was senior fellow at the Goldwater Institute, Tucson, AZ, associate editor of the Economics of Education Review , advisor to Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s transition team, research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and staff director at the National Research Council. He authored more than two dozen books and monographs and 75 articles in scholarly and professional journals on such topics as teacher quality, school reform, learning technology, demographics of higher education, and the links among education, work and job creation. Solmon’s editorials appeared regularly on the opinion pages of national and local papers.

Lew Solmon was a devoted family man who is survived by his beloved wife of 42 years, Vicki; daughter Kira and son-in-law Craig Cooper; son Matt Solmon and daughter-in-law Elizabeth; and grandchildren Charlie, Katie and Leo Cooper, Evan Solmon, D.J. Smith and Tommy Edwards. His parents are Edward (of blessed memory) and Eve Solmon of Toronto, Canada, and brother Fred and sister-in-law Cheryl Solmon also of Toronto. A collector extraordinaire from miniature buildings to baseball cards, Solmon was also a devoted UCLA basketball fan who traveled with his wife to games across the country.

Memorial services are scheduled for noon, Thursday, December 20 at the Milken Family Foundation, 1250 Fourth Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching at the same address.


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