Commonwealth EducationalPolicy Institute

A division of the L. Douglas Wilder School of government and Public affairs

A project of the Virginia Commonwealth University Center for Public Policy

About us

The Commonwealth Educational Policy Institute, a program of the Office for Public Policy Outreach in the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, provides non-partisan policy analysis to the public and education policymakers. In addition to contracted research projects, CEPI conducts the Commonwealth Education Poll and provides weekly updates from the General Assembly session about education-related issues as a public service.

Our mission

CEPI supports the development and implementation of research-based comprehensive educational public policy for the improvement of elementary, secondary and tertiary education through research, policy analysis, service to school divisions and support services for local, state and national educational policymakers.

Our founder

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William C. Bosher Jr., Ed.D.

For many years, CEPI founder Dr. Bill Bosher provided a weekly editorial on education issues for NBC12. A memorium editorial, following his sudden passing in December 2014, is below. NBC12 VIEWPOINT: Remembering William C. Bosher Jr. (December 7, 2014)

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    William C. Bosher Jr. founded the Commonwealth Educational Policy Institute in 1998 and served as executive director until his unexpected passing in late November 2014. A former dean of the School of Education at Virginia Commonwealth University, Bosher also served as a distinguished professor of public policy and education in the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at VCU.

    He was a teacher, principal, state director, local superintendent of two districts with 35,000 to 50,000 students and the superintendent of public instruction for the commonwealth of Virginia. He was the only superintendent in Virginia to be named twice as the superintendent of the year and was voted the arts administrator of the year by the Kennedy Center. Likewise, he served on five public and private university boards of trustee.

    In addition to his leadership roles, Bosher served as a consultant in more than 35 states and 12 foreign countries on topics related to educational law and finance, policy analysis, standards development, school evaluations and human relations. He was a fellow of SchoolNet and the Urban Health Initiative, a managing partner in a private consulting firm, DecideSmart, and an organizing director of the River City Bank. He served as chair of the Board of Edvantia, a research and evaluation nonprofit that generated $16 million in annual revenue.

    Bosher wrote more than 39 articles and co-authored two books on school law and educational leadership: “Law and Education: Contemporary Issues and Court Decisions” and “The School Law Handbook, What Every Leader Needs to Know.” He received an Ed.D. in educational administration from the University of Virginia as well as a B.A. in English from the University of Richmond and an M.Ed. in counselor education from VCU.

Our staff

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Grant Rissler
Assistant Director, Office of Public Policy Outreach
Phone: (804) 827-2603

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    Grant Rissler began coordinating communications and special projects for CEPI in the fall of 2012 and became assistant director in 2015. In December 2017 he became assistant director for the Office of Public Policy Outreach, which includes CEPI as one of its programs.  Rissler successfully defended his dissertation in the Wilder School’s public policy and administration Ph.D. program in June 2017.  His research focuses on immigration policy and its intersection with education.

    He holds a master’s degree in international relations from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, a graduate certificate in conflict transformation from Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding and a bachelor’s degree in history from Goshen College.

    Prior to joining CEPI, Rissler coordinated fundraising for Mennonite Central Committee – East Coast, directed communications for The Faith & Politics Institute and served two and one-half years in three positions through Mennonite Voluntary Service.

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Richard S. Vacca, Ed.D.
Senior Fellow, CEPI
Phone: (804) 828-1332

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    Richard S. Vacca is senior fellow at the Commonwealth Educational Policy Institute, authoring the monthly education law newsletter, to which he brings decades of legal experience. He is the author of five books and more than 100 book chapters and articles in refereed journals.

    Vacca is also professor emeritus of education, a former assistant dean of the School of Education and former chair of the Department of Educational Leadership at VCU.

    He received a bachelor’s degree in government and law from Lafayette College, a master’s degree from S.U.N.Y. at Oneonta and a doctorate from Duke University, where he studied school law under the late Professor E.C. Bolmeier. Vacca also completed postdoctoral study at the University of Richmond Law School.

    He is certified as a mediator by the Supreme Court of Virginia to receive case referrals from the General District and Circuit Court (Civil) Courts, and by the Virginia Department of Education to receive special education case referrals.

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