Pennsylvania Governor Rendell Names Joseph Torsella State Board of Education Chairman

HARRISBURG, Pa., Aug. 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Governor Edward G. Rendell today said he has named Joseph M. Torsella as chairman of the State Board of Education.

Torsella, who joined the board earlier this year, was among 12 board members unanimously confirmed by the state Senate in April.

“The State Board of Education is embarking on major initiatives that will impact students for years to come,” said Governor Rendell. “For example, it recently made changes to require the state’s colleges and universities to better prepare students to be the next generation of teachers; updated state academic standards; and improved state policies that address educational programs and services for students with disabilities.

“Joe will be terrific in implementing the new changes. Additionally, I cannot think of a more qualified individual who can facilitate the discussion about guaranteeing that our students graduate with the skills they need to be successful in the global workforce upon high school graduation,” the Governor said.

“I am excited and honored to have this opportunity to serve the commonwealth. No issue is more important to our common future, both economic and civic, than education in Pennsylvania,” said Torsella.

Torsella has served as president and CEO of the National Constitution Center since June 2006, securing and advancing the museum’s place as one of America’s most vital and dynamic institutions. He previously served as president and CEO from 1997 through 2003 and was the driving force behind the National Constitution Center’s concept, construction, and opening as a new tourism anchor on Independence Mall.

“Mr. Torsella’s education credentials and leadership at the National Constitution Center make him the ideal board chair,” said secretary of Education Gerald L. Zahorchak. “Under his leadership, the facility has become a hub of civic education and developer of curriculum and materials by working in cooperation with school District of Philadelphia to train classroom teachers and engage students. I look forward to his ideas and leadership benefiting all of Pennsylvania’s children.”

Torsella graduated Phi Beta Kappa with an honors degree in economics and history from the University of Pennsylvania. As a Rhodes Scholar, he did graduate work in American history at New College, Oxford. He is active in community and public affairs. He is a former director of Admiral Merchants Motor Freight and Young Scholars Charter School, and a current trustee of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, and Historic Philadelphia Inc. Torsella also served as volunteer board co-chair of Philadelphia 2016, the bi-partisan regional group that is leading the effort to bring the Olympics to Philadelphia He, his wife, Carolyn Short Torsella, a partner at the Reed Smith law firm, and their four children live in Flourtown, Montgomery County.

Torsella succeeds Karl Girton, who resigned as State Board of Education chair last month. Girton spent 17 years as the State Board of Education chair.

“Karl tirelessly worked on behalf of Pennsylvania’s children and worked on major policy changes during his tenure that positively affected all children of the commonwealth. His efforts are appreciated by all those in the educational community and by all those students whose lives he made better.

“I applaud Karl for his exceptional service to the students and schools of the commonwealth and thank him for his hard work and dedication,” said Governor Rendell.

The State Board of Education is the principal administrative regulatory body for elementary/secondary and higher education in Pennsylvania. Its recent duties have included the compilation of a statewide costing-out study, which was requested by the General Assembly, to determine the finances necessary to provide all students with a quality education.

For more information about the board, visit

The Rendell administration is committed to creating a first-rate public education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing economic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find out more about Governor Rendell’s initiatives and to sign up for his weekly newsletter, visit

CONTACT: Michael Race of PDE, +1-717-783-9802, or Gary Miller of Pennsylvania Office of the Governor, +1-717-783-1116

Pennsylvania Office of the Governor

CONTACT: Michael Race of PDE, +1-717-783-9802, or Gary Miller ofPennsylvania Office of the Governor, +1-717-783-1116

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