When the history books recount the origins of Canyons District, Dr. Robert M. Dowdle is sure to be a pivotal character in the launch, development, growth, and success of the first new public school system to be created in Utah in nearly a century.
Dowdle’s influence, which has been present since he was appointed CSD’s Assistant Superintendent in December 2008, will surely be felt long after his last day as one of the District’s top administrators.
On Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, Dowdle, also a former social studies teacher, assistant principal and principal of Jordan High, announced his upcoming retirement. He will end his 35-year career as an educator at the end of the 2022-2023 school year.
“This spring marks the completion of 35 years of service in the Jordan and Canyons school districts. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with the children, their families, and my fellow educators over the years – they richly blessed my life,” Dr. Dowdle said.
“I believe that working as an educator is one of the most noble and rewarding ways to earn a living and my decision to pursue this career path was one of the best life decisions I have made,” he said. “I want to thank the Board of Education for the trust and support they gave me. I also want to thank my supervisors and peers for their kindness, support, friendship, and dedication to the work over the years.”
Whether tasked with overseeing District academic teams or its central operations, from curricular decisions to the smooth-running of school buses, his approach has been to quietly plant in others the seeds of progress and change. His instinct has been to build trust with people and give them the freedom to do their best work.
It’s an understated leadership style, for sure, one that has served him and Canyons District well.
Under his tenure, starting teacher salaries rose dramatically, by $20,000 in just the last six years and accompanied by increases for veteran teachers, as well. Support staff, too, have received compensation increases every year, even during the Great Recession. End-of-year student test scores have soared and CSD’s high school graduation rate has risen 7 percent.
“I know you all will join me in offering our deepest appreciation to Dr. Dowdle for his tireless dedication and leadership in CSD for many years. He has had a positive impact on the lives of many,” said Superintendent Dr. Rick Robins.
Dowdle was part of the administrative team to successfully propose two general obligation bonds to CSD patrons. The first bond measure, approved in 2010, provided $250 million to kick-start Canyons’ ambitious facility-improvement plan. The second, OK’d by voters in 2017, was for $283 million, and enabled the District to continue rebuilding and bringing safety and technology improvements to schools in every corner of the District.
In addition, Dr. Dowdle guided the District through its earliest days, building systems that are still reaping dividends today. He was instrumental in working with the Canyons Board of Education to create Canyons’ crystal-clear vision of college- and career-readiness for all, and helped oversee the reconfiguration of grades to move sixth-graders into middle school and ninth-graders into high school, creating healthier feeder systems and a more streamlined path to graduation for students.
With the pandemic came unforeseen challenges to cap his career. Dowdle will credit his team for finding solutions, though he’s missed nary a day of work since the onset of the health crisis. Many of the safety protocols that Canyons helped develop became a model for the state. Canyons’ efforts to prioritize in-person throughout the COVID-19 health crisis instruction paid off in student achievement levels that well surpass those in other states.
“I am personally grateful to Bob for not just being a great educational leader, but being my close teammate, mentor, and friend,” Dr. Robins said. “It has been an honor to ride side-by-side with him these past three years. I wish him nothing but the best in his future adventures.”