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University of Central Missouri
Administration 302
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4640
Fax: 660-543-4943


Governor Recognizes Servant Leader Butterfield for Excellence in Education

Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (March 19, 2015) –  Dawna Lisa (Buchanan) Butterfield, Ph.D., a University of Central Missouri educator whom colleagues describe as an exceptional teacher and servant leader, will receive the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education.

The 2014-2015 award is made possible by the Missouri Council on Public Higher Education (COPHE). Butterfield and other award recipients selected from COPHE-member institutions across the state travel to Jefferson City April 7 to be recognized during a luncheon hosted by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon. The UCM Board of Governors will honor her during a meeting on campus March 27.

Dawna Lisa Butterfield
Dawna Lisa Butterfield

Public colleges and universities select Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education recipients on the basis of criteria that include effective teaching at the undergraduate level, effective advising of undergraduate students, service to the college community, and commitment to high standards of excellence. Other qualities include success in nurturing student achievement and the impact nominees have had on the academic and personal lives of their students. Applications for the award were considered by a committee of tenured faculty members.

Butterfield’s career in education spans 26 years, including nearly 18 years at UCM. Achieving the rank of professor, she has served since 2012 as chair of the Department of Educational Foundations and Literacy, and is faculty program coordinator for Literacy Education. Her major teaching assignment also is in Literacy Education.

In naming Butterfield the award recipient, the selection committee noted her strong skills in pedagogy, advising, mentoring and leading students.

“Many current K-12 educators in Missouri and throughout the United States have been influenced by and have benefited from Dr. Butterfield’s commitment to education. She consistently works to create a learning environment that supports her students and maximizes their opportunities to learn and succeed,” the committee noted. The committee also cited the respect Butterfield has earned among her faculty colleagues, not only within her academic department, but at the college and university levels.

“As chair of her department, she leads with a collaborative style that encourages all faculty members to achieve, contribute, and innovate,” according to the committee. “She also seeks to collaborate with faculty in other departments and colleges.”

Butterfield grew up in Canada and has lived and traveled throughout North America and Europe. She said coming to UCM was a leap of faith, and “yet I have never been so happy, professionally and personally. The Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education is a stunning tribute, which of course gives me great personal joy, but also truly honors how UCM’s ‘Four Reasons to Believe’ have served as an inspiration for my tenure in the great state of Missouri.”

Butterfield’s tenure exemplifies qualities of engaged learning, future-focused academics, worldly perspective, and a culture of service – all characteristics of what UCM calls “learning to a greater degree.”

Her commitment to engaged learning and future-focused academics is demonstrated through her design and revision of online courses and through training in Quality Matters online design, which has given Butterfield knowledge of best practices in online course development. She was active in developing a new Educational Foundations Core, which was adopted by the College of Education Teacher Education Council in 2014.  Her work also has included developing and designing a new introductory course on English Language Learners and Culturally Responsive Pedagogy to meet new Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education requirements across all teacher education programs.

Butterfield has a record of scholarly endeavors in collaboration with her faculty colleagues. This has contributed to UCM Research Awards, published works, and invitations to participate in professional conferences, which she said, “keep me informed of changes in education, culture and society, and alert me to trends and future needs on the horizon.”

Contributing to a worldly perspective, opportunities for Buchanan to share her research and interact with educators across the globe have taken her to many parts of the United States to participate in professional conferences and events. This has included international opportunities in Canada, England, Ireland, Hungary, and Scotland.

She has helped foster a culture of service at UCM through her volunteerism. This includes participation in the annual Children’s Literature Festival which brings thousands of young people and their teachers to campus, and establishing a student group, Leading Educator Advocates for Diversity (LEAD), which resulted in a scholarship for students who provide outstanding community service. In addition to her full-time duties as a professor, Butterfield has contributed to the professional growth of others in her field by serving as editor of “The Dragon Lode,” a publication of the International Reading Association.

Butterfield appreciates the support of her many colleagues in the College of Education who contribute to an education environment that nurtures her curiosity and wide range of interests, including literacy, culturally responsive pedagogy, interculturalism, diversity, English Language Learners and fine arts. She believes this contributed to her recognition. 

“Eighteen years ago, I had no idea what my future would bring,” Butterfield said. “The Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education is the biggest professional ‘thank you’ I have ever received – and I am grateful to everyone who made it possible. I am deeply honored by this recognition.”

The symposium is open to active duty military personnel, veterans, community members, and students, and there is a charge for participation. Learn more about the event, costs, and how to register, by visiting the website Individuals also can call Kellie Duffendack