AECT Foundation

In the early 1970s, some of the leaders of AECT from the 1950s generation, especially Lee W. Cochran, Francis W. Noel, and Richard B. Lewis, began to discuss the creation of a vehicle to promote professional activities that were not permissible under the IRS classification of AECT as a corporation. They held meetings at the 1971 and 1972 conventions under the aegis of "AECT Leadership Endowment Fund Committee.” They discussed the establishment of a foundation that could support research, offer scholarships, and be a repository for donations that could be used for educational and charitable activities. Executive director Howard Hitchens drew up the documents with the aid of an attorney, and at the end of the 1972 convention the AECT Board of Directors acted on this idea by creating an independent foundation—ECT Foundation, which was given official status by the Internal Revenue Service in 1974 as a 501(c)(3) public, nonprofit corporation. The incorporating officers of the ECT Foundation board of trustees were AECT staff members Hitchens, Richard Nibeck, and Pryor Hale.

Under the terms of the Foundation by-laws, it was to be governed by the immediate past-president of AECT and a sixteen-member board of trustees. The board members were assigned specifically to monitor each of the four funds disbursed by the Foundation—scholarships, leadership, mentor endowment, and general—and to ensure compliance with law and donor wishes. Although the foundation is legally independent of AECT, the AECT Board has the power to appoint the trustees of the foundation. The executive director of AECT also serves as executive director of the foundation.

Robert Heinich, professor at Indiana University, who was just finishing a term as president of AECT, was elected as President of the ECT Foundation. Heinich served as Foundation president from 1972 to 1982, at which time Robert deKieffer, formerly head of the Audio-Visual Bureau at University of Colorado, and who had served as AECT president in 1957-1958, succeeded him for a ten year period.

In 1992, Hans-Erik Wennberg, associate professor of communications at Elizabethtown College, became the third president of the foundation and continued to serve through the end of the decade and into the next.

As the philanthropic supplement to AECT, the foundation’s goal is to provide financial support for three types of programs: Leadership, Scholarship, and General.

Leadership Fund 

The Leadership Fund supports activities fostering the skills of leadership. Examples of awards granted:
  • James W. Brown Publication Award—$500 to the author(s) of the best non-periodic publication in the field of educational technology.
  • Richard B. Lewis Memorial Award—$500 for the outstanding program of media utilization or production by a school district.
  • Robert deKieffer International Fellowship Award—$100 to recognize professional leadership in educational communications and technology in a foreign country
  • Dean and Sibyl McClusky Research Award—$500 for the best doctoral research proposal in educational technology.
  • Lee W. Cochran Okoboji Leadership Award—provides funds to enable graduate students to attend the summer leadership conference.
  • Carl F. and Viola V. Mahnke Film Production Award—$500 for film and video products that demonstrate excellence in message design and production for education.
  • Young Researcher Award—$500 for the best report of an experimental, descriptive, or historical study in educational technology.
  • Young Scholar Award—$500 for the best paper discussing a theoretical construct that could guide research in educational technology.
  • Qualitative Research Award—$1000 for the best qualitative research project. 
One of the most visible manifestations of the Leadership Fund is the Convention Intern awards granted to a half dozen outstanding students each year, to defray their expenses in attending the convention and to provide them with highly visible "networking” opportunities at the convention itself.

Scholarship Fund 

Each year the Scholarship Fund grants scholarships to students selected by the AECT Scholarship Committee. A large part of funds for these grants comes from the AECT Memorial Scholarship Fund, begun in 1958 to honor Helen Rachford, who died in a plane crash enroute to the 1958 convention, where she was to become vice-president of the association. Subsequently, other names were added to the memorial scholarship roster whenever contributions in the name of that person exceeded $500. Others named as honorees for the AECT Memorial Scholarship Fund are:
  • A.J. Foy Cross
  • Paul C. Reed
  • Eugene K. Oxhandler
  • L.D. Miller
  • James D. Finn
  • Galen L. Pearce
  • Kathryn L. Carlin
  • Charles W. Wright
  • K.C. Rugg
  • Robert W. Kilbourn
  • Roy Wright
  • Betty Stoops
  • Ernestine Runner
  • Louis H. Brown
  • J. James McPherson
In addition to the Memorial Scholarships, other special purpose scholarships have been granted, for example:
  • McJulien Minority Graduate Scholarship Award--$250 for a minority graduate student in educational communications and technology.

General Fund 

According to the ECT Foundation constitution, the General Fund can support research or the dissemination of research or other activities aimed at educating the public about the values of media in education. For example, the General Fund supported the hosting of the annual meeting of the International Council for Educational Media (ICEM) in the U.S. in 1977 and it continued to support US representation in the ICEM thereafter. This fund is also used to cover the costs of operating the foundation.

[For a list of all meetings of the ECT Foundation at the annual AECT convention, see "ECTF at Convention (pdf).” ]


McJulien, Wes. (1994). AECT Past Presidents and ECT Foundation: A Historical Cameo, an unpublished document. Bloomington, IN: Association for Educational Communications and Technology.

ECT Foundation Awards Program (undated), an unpublished collection of documents. 
Bloomington, IN: ECT Foundation.

Current members (voting):
Doyle, Robert
Miller, Chris
Past President:
Moore, Stephanie
Tillberg-Webb, Heather
Tolbert, Denise

Donaldson, Ana
Hergert, Tom (NEW)
Huett, Jason (NEW)
Reeves, Tom (NEW)
Sorensen, Chris
Tracey, Monica (NEW)
Wagner, Ellen (NEW)

​Emeriti (non-voting):
Anthony, Deborah
Harrell, Robert
Kinsinger, Addie
Wennberg, Hans-Erik
White, Charles

AECT Past-president – Foundation Liaison:
Kowch, Eugene    ekowch@ucalgary.ca​  (one year - ends at convention in November)

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