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UCR Sociologist Still Working


UCR Professor Keeps Bringing in the Grant Money Even After Retirement


Proving whether a program is worth the money is the job of sociologist Ed Butler

(November 1, 2006)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — Retirement did not stop UC Riverside Professor Emeritus of Sociology Edgar Butler from caring about measuring the effectiveness of social programs.

Since 1969, he has spent his academic career at UCR running numbers, showing results before and after the implementation of a program to find out if the benefits justified the costs.

That is why he will be smiling broadly in the audience Saturday, Nov. 4, at Morongo casino, where one of his post-retirement projects with the JFK Memorial Foundation picks up a Bono Family Creating Hope Award for effectively serving at-risk children in the Coachella Valley.

“This organization has phoenixed, in part, because of Dr. Butler’s dedication,” said Susan Francis, chief executive of the JFK Memorial Foundation. “He is not only our professional evaluator, but it is under his guidance that our grant writing team has written several successful grants.”

U.S. Rep. Mary Bono, R-Palm Springs, and 65th District Assemblyman Russ Bogh, R-Beaumont, will serve as hosts at Saturday’s black-tie fundraiser for the non-profit Prevent Child Abuse Riverside County. The group will name Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as Child Advocate of the Year, although it is unclear whether the Governor’s schedule will allow him to attend.

The JFK Memorial Foundation is one of six agencies that will be recognized for effective programs serving children in Riverside County. They provide community education, health care services and focus on the needs of children from birth to three years, with programs that include home visits and referrals for at-risk families with infants and young children.

“We try to prevent problems before they occur,” said Butler, who retired several years ago but keeps an office on campus and continues to consult with several organizations. He said he has measured increases in childhood immunizations, rates of breastfeeding, home safety and the number of well-baby visits, due to the home visits implemented by the JFK Memorial Foundation. The program has also been able to refer families to resources in the community, including mental health programs, job placement programs and school district programs.

“Problems are more expensive to fix later,” Butler said. “If you spend a little money up front, you can avoid larger costs in the welfare system and the criminal justice system.”

His current interests include various aspects of Mexico, evaluation of various social programs, and Southern reconstruction.

Francis said that Butler’s expertise in applied sociology and his background in demographics and number-crunching has paid off for JFK Memorial Foundation, in the number of grants they have received since he joined the team, an estimated $3.5 million.

“Many agency programs do not provide for a professional evaluation of the results, the measurable outcomes,” Francis said. “That’s what he’s all about. And that’s what makes us attractive and credible to the next agency that has funding for this kind of programming.”

The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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