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Wilmington University’s Varsalona wins education award from chamber

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By Kathy Canavan

The Delaware State Chamber of Commerce this month will present Jack Varsalona, president of Wilmington University, a leadership award that honors John H. Taylor Jr., director of the chamber-affiliated Delaware Public Policy Institute.

“Anyone who knew John Taylor is aware of his interest in education and the timeless effort he put into making Delaware’s public education system world class,” said A. Richard Heffron, president of the state chamber. “This award is an appropriate way to honor the memory of John Taylor and those people who have spent their adult life dedicated to providing all Delaware children with access to an a first-rate education.”

Mr. Taylor, who died last April, worked as a reporter, metro reporter and editorial editor for The News Journal for 37 years, and served as president of the National Conference of Editorial Writers before he took moved to the institute in 2005.

The John H. Taylor Jr. Education Leadership Award honors his first career — teaching English and history at St. Mary’s Secondary School in Tilbury, England. Mr. Taylor also served as assistant to the superintendent of Wilmington Public Schools for three years and was a founding member of Vision2015, the business-directed education reform effort. He also served on the board of the University of Delaware’s School of Public Policy and Administration.

The John H. Taylor Jr. Education Leadership Award recognizes someone within the community who has provided sustained leadership in advancing Delaware education and, as a result, made the community a better place to live and work.

Varsalona will receive the award at the chamber’s annual Superstars in Education Reception and Awards Ceremony at Wilmington University’s Doberstein Admissions Center Auditorium at 4:45 p.m. on May 9.

“I’m honored to receive this award from the state chamber for many reasons, but, most especially, because it has John Taylor’s name attached to it,” said Varsalona. “John’s integrity and his concern for students in Delaware were second to none. He was passionate about education reform and was well respected for all he wrote and did toward that end in this state.”

Varsalona, who had worked in education in Delaware for 40 years, is one of the founders of the Delaware Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and a member of the Ursuline Academy Board of Trustees.

He is also member of the Fresh Start Scholarship Foundation Advisory Board. He is the 2013 recipient of the Fresh Start Scholarship Foundation’s Muriel E. Gilman Championship Award for his outstanding contributions to the success of the foundation. Varsalona is a team chair with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Varsalona is involved with United Way of Delaware, the Wilmington Renaissance Corp. and First State Innovation.

He serves on the board of the Boys and Girls Club of Delaware.

In 2014, Varsalona was the inaugural recipient of the Father Roberto Balducelli Appreciation Award for his extensive work in the Italian-American community and support of Italian artistry.

Varsalona was named Advocate of the Year by Goodwill of Delaware and Delaware County in May 2015.

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