To say Gilbert Brown left his mark on students and educators around the world would be an understatement.
The Long Island native spent a majority of his career in Brazil, where he served as headmaster of the American School of Rio de Janeiro from 1963 to 1987. He also led the Lincoln School in San Jose, Costa Rica as director general from 1989 to 1993.
All told, he spent 48 years in overseas education.
“Gilbert Brown is the consummate educator,” wrote John Ketterer, associate professor in the College of Education at Jacksonville State University. “In his unique career, he has integrated the qualities of a productive scholar with those of a highly skilled school administrator.”
Brown, who received his bachelor’s degree in education from SUNY Cortland, earned his master’s degree and doctorate in educational administration from Columbia University.
He taught in New York and served as an assistant principal in Connecticut before his service in South America.
“The schools in Rio and Costa Rica served as showplaces for educators in local schools of all that was admirable and achievable in the values and philosophy of American public education,” Brown wrote.
After his retirement in 1993, Brown consulted with more than 90 developing international school boards in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. He worked with the U.S. Department of State as a consultant from 2005 to 2008.
“I dedicated myself to help international school boards and those of international service organizations to become more effective and focused on their obligations to exemplify democratic values in their schools and organizational programs,” Brown wrote.
In addition to dozens of journal articles, Brown has authored seven books related to professional education, most recently the 2006 book, Crucibles of Democracy: The American International Schools and the Globalization of Democratic Values (Bloomington, Ind.: Phi Delta Kappa International).
From 2003 to 2010, he was editor of InterED, the journal of the AAIE. He currently serves as the journal’s editor emeritus and frequently contributes articles related to international education.
Brown taught in higher education at the Foreign Service Institute in Brazil, Western Michigan University, the University of Florida and Memphis State University.
“My community has been the world,” Brown wrote.
The State Assembly named him Honorary Citizen of the State of Rio de Janeiro in 1983 and the Association of American Schools in South America awarded him Educator of the Year in 2008.
Geri de Souza, a high school English teacher who worked under Brown at the American School of Rio de Janeiro, called Brown’s leadership “life-changing.”
“He was highly respected by his staff and knew each and every one of us not only by name but by background as well,” Souza wrote. “He fostered this closeness to staff so that our school was a close-knit family.”
Brown’s wife, Shirley Haft Brown ’51, submitted his nomination for the award. The couple, married for 62 years, will celebrate the class’ 60th reunion at SUNY Cortland this summer.
“We, all of us, alumni and students, owe the College more than can be repaid,” Gilbert Brown wrote. “What it has done for me, and for Shirley, is far beyond our reach to compensate in either word or deed.”