Commencement 2023 was a joyful celebration of our 102 graduates, attended by hundreds of family members and friends at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park on Tuesday, May 9.
Highlights included the awarding of mother/daughter honorary degrees to Barbara T. Bowman and Valerie Jarrett, the announcement of the Founders’ Award for alumni leadership, and remarks from our student speaker, Emily Brown, M.S. ’23 Child Development. At the reception following the ceremony the grads, faculty, family members and friends mingled and enjoyed delicious appetizers and soft drinks.
Barbara T. Bowman is a pioneer in the field of early childhood. Throughout her career, she has been an advocate for young children, applying knowledge about child development to her work integrating policy and practice.
In 1965, Bowman, along with child psychologist Maria Piers, social worker Lorraine Wallach, and businessman and philanthropist Irving B. Harris, founded Erikson Institute to provide leadership training for Head Start teachers, social workers, nurses, and other professions working with young children.
Over the next 50+ years, while continuing to serve many roles at Erikson, including President, Bowman held other high-profile positions including Chief Deputy for Early Childhood Education for the Chicago Public Schools and as a consultant to the U.S. Secretary of Education under former President Barack Obama.
Currently, Bowman teaches graduate students as the Irving B. Harris Professor of Child Development and serves as co-principal investigator of a project aimed at improving child-parent centers across three states.
Barbara received her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and her M.A. from University of Chicago, Department of Education. She is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees and awards.
The Honorable Valerie Jarrett is Chief Executive Officer and a member of the board of directors of the Barack Obama Foundation. She is also a Senior Distinguished Fellow at The University of Chicago Law School. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling book Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward, published in April 2019.
She serves as Board Chairman of Civic Nation and Co-Chair of The United State of Women. Jarrett also serves on the boards of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc., Ralph Lauren Corporation, Lyft, Inc., Sweetgreen, Inc., Ariel Investments, The University of Chicago, Sesame Street Workshop and The Economic Club of Chicago. Jarrett also serves on the Goldman Sachs One Million Black Women Advisory Board, the Bank of America Enterprise Executive Development Council, and the Microsoft Advisory Council.
Ms. Jarrett was the Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama from 2009-2017, making her the longest serving senior advisor to a president in history. She oversaw the Offices of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs and Chaired the White House Council on Women and Girls.
Jarrett received her B.A. from Stanford University in 1978 and her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 1981. Ms. Jarrett has also received numerous awards and honorary degrees, including TIME’s “100 Most Influential People” Award.