A Man of Vision, Integrity, and Passion

Did you ever think about what sort of impact you will make on the world and how your professional life would factor into that? A dear friend and colleague found out the answer to that question last week.

Paul Abramson, president of Stanton Leggett & Associates and Education Industry Analyst for School Planning & Management and College Planning & Management magazines, was selected as the 2008 Planner of the Year by the Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI) at the organization's 85th Annual World Conference in San Diego last week.

The council is a professional association with the sole mission of improving the places where children learn. CEFPI members are actively involved in planning, designing, building, equipping, and maintaining schools and colleges worldwide. The Planner of the Year is the highest and most distinguished honor presented to an individual whose professional facility planning activities have produced a significant impact on educational facility planning — and no one deserves the honor more than Paul.

Paul has spent more than 50 years in education as a planner and demographer for school districts and colleges, as a researcher, a writer, magazine editor and communicator, and as an advocate for children. Many of you know Paul for his monthly column “A Final Thought,” published in School Planning & Management magazine and appearing on the Website of the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities. Others know him for his annual studies on school construction, a report that he has been preparing for more than 35 years; information that has been widely used by school districts, colleges, and companies serving the education market.

Paul, a mentor to many of us in the profession, was mentored by the best — Dr. James D. McConnell and Dr. Stanton Leggett, both recognized in the past as CEFPI Planners of the Year. During his professional career, Paul served as a consultant to Educational Facilities Laboratory (EFL), a Ford Foundation-funded project that engaged in research of school buildings, construction materials and systems, and good school planning strategies. It was during this time, that Paul had the opportunity to work closely with Dr. McConnell, who was serving as director of EFL’s Planning Laboratory, located on the Stanford University campus. Later, Paul served EFL as associate director for the Academy for Educational Development. Hand picked by Dr. Leggett to serve as an educational consultant for his firm, Paul became president of the Stanton Leggett Educational Consultants, which for many years was one of a few private firms specializing in educational facility planning, working with school districts and the designers of schools.

As a practitioner, Paul is the kind of educational consultant that any school or institution would want — smart, hard-working, visionary, and caring. Joanne Loewenthal, superintendent of Hampton Bays School District says, “Paul Abramson makes a bigger impact than he realizes. It is that he cares — cares about kids, about education, about good building design. His contributions are motivated by how an item, a design, or an activity can potentially impact and improve the lives of children.”

I, personally, have known Paul for nearly 25 years, and watched him work tirelessly to promote the creative and responsible planning of educational facilities so that every student will have a healthy, safe environment in which to learn and thrive. I have seen him successfully complete many planning projects using “tried and true” methods, but Paul never stopped there. His in-depth knowledge of the industry, his analytical ability, and his personal resolve, has led him to identify trends, research and develop new methods, and formulate better ways to get the job done — improving schools and the profession as a whole. Paul’s common-man approach endears him to many of us. He is a person with vision, integrity, and passion that is always visible, and he is willing to stand up and be counted rather than disappear into the background. There is no one that I know with a higher level of commitment to the children and to the profession, and no better choice for the 2008 CEFPI Planner of the Year.

Congratulations Paul!