The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence is named for Edward F. Prichard, a Bourbon County, Kentucky, lawyer, political reformer and lifelong advocate for the role of excellent education in building a civil and prosperous society. A graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School, Prichard clerked for Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter and helped craft Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal while working in the White House. Prichard was considered by many intellectuals, academicians and politicians to be one of the brightest young minds of his generation. His intellectual brilliance was counter-balanced with a trait that historian Arthur Schlesinger called “a fine but dangerous carelessness.” A target of J. Edgar Hoover’s campaign to discredit New Deal politics, Prichard was convicted of election fraud in Kentucky in 1949. Although he was pardoned by President Harry Truman, the scandal wounded Prichard’s political career. He became a trustworthy advisor to Kentucky policy makers and in 1966 was appointed to the State Council on Higher Education by Governor Edward Breathitt.  From that position, Prichard engineered the rise of Kentucky’s education system out of out of mediocrity. After serving 14 years on the Council, Prichard became chairman of a citizen’s advocacy committee for excellent education, later named the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence. The committee’s first report, “In Pursuit of Excellence,” is the Committee’s seminal work and is considered a national model. Prichard died in 1984. His unwavering belief that “opening a way to a larger life was education’s aim” is the legacy that animates the Committee’s work to this day.

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