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Samuel J. Meisels, president of Erikson since 2002 and an expert on early childhood assessment and development, announced that he will step down at the end of this academic year.
He leaves to become the founding executive director of the University of Nebraska’s new Buffett Early Childhood Institute. Established with an endowment of more than $100 million thanks to a generous gift from philanthropist Susie Buffett and support from university, private, and federal sources, the institute is committed to helping transform early childhood development and education in Nebraska and across the nation.
Meisels made the announcement in an email to Erikson students, faculty, staff, and alumni, writing, “Building on a strong history of accomplishments, we have created something at Erikson that we can all be proud of, and I am most grateful for your support.”
During Meisels’s 11 years as president, Erikson:
- Prepared increasing numbers of graduate students in child development and early education. Erikson’s student body more than doubled, growing from 120 to 300 students in campus-based and online programs.
- More than doubled funding for applied research and community-based projects. These initiatives have improved life for children and families throughout Chicago and invigorated Erikson’s graduate courses and faculty.
- Greatly expanded its partnership with Chicago Public Schools teachers, administration, and students through the New Schools Project, Early Mathematics Education Project, and Herr Research Center for Children and Social Policy.
- Established the Center for Children and Families, which over three years provided comprehensive assessment and counseling to more than 1,300 Chicago-area families, including many at-risk children and families in distress.
- Opened a state-of-the-art campus in Chicago’s River North neighborhood that enables Erikson to serve more children, families, and early childhood professionals.
- Raised more than $50 million during a successful five-year fundraising campaign for the new campus, an endowed chair, fellowships, and special programs.
- Increased the endowment by nearly 100% and completed two five-year strategic plans that provided direction as Erikson increased its visibility and influence on the early childhood field.
“Sam is an exceptional leader with a transformative vision for early childhood,” says Kate Neisser, chair of the Board of Trustees. “During his tenure, he has built on Erikson’s many strengths and sparked innovative programs and initiatives that are helping young children in Chicago and beyond reach their full potential.”
The search for Meisels’s successor will be led by Michelle L. Collins, vice chair of the Board of Trustees. Recommendations or questions can be sent to [email protected].