The national Character Education Partnership has chosen Fresno State’s Dr. Jacques Benninga to receive its highest award, the 2012 Sanford N. McDonnell Award for Lifetime Achievement in Character Education.

Benninga chairs the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and is director of the Bonner Center for Character Education and Citizenship, both housed within Fresno State’s Kremen School of Education and Human Development.

He coordinates Fresno State’s annual Conference on Character and Civic Education, which provides future teachers with information about ethical implications they’ll face as educators and about local civic agencies assisting children and families with life issues.

Central San Joaquin Valley schools are recognized at the conference each year with the Virtues and Character Recognition awards. The conference is the oldest of its kind in the United States.

The annual award is named in memory of “Sandy” McDonnell, chairman emeritus of the McDonnell Douglas Corporation and the Character Education Partnership, and is presented to a good-character role model who has played a significant role in promoting character education.

Benninga joined the Fresno State faculty in 1983. He has directed the Bonner Center since its founding in 1997. His innovative work with colleagues at the center has created professional development opportunities and materials that have guided teachers to reflect on ethical dilemmas they face working with students.

“For more than 25 years, Dr. Benninga has been a major force in promoting quality character education in California and beyond,” said Mark Hyatt, the partnership’s president and CEO. “His 1991 book, ‘Moral, Character and Civic Education in Elementary School,’ helped launch today’s character education movement.”

Benninga serves on various university and community committees and boards and has written about 40 journal articles on character education and sustainability. He has been the university’s liberal studies coordinator (1988-98) and the Department of Literacy and Early Education chair (1990-2003).

Benninga will receive the award Nov. 2 in Washington, D.C., during the 2012 National Forum on Character Education.

For more information, contact Rebecca Sipos with the partnership, 202.296.7743 or, or Dr. James Marshall, associate dean of education at Fresno State, 559.278.0205 or

(Copy by University Communications news student assistant Alejandra Garcia, a mass communication and journalism major.)

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