Honorary degrees awarded at 2009 commencement

Erikson Institute to Award Philanthropist, Child Psychologist Honorary Doctoral Degrees

Ann Lurie and Dr. Margaret Beale Spencer to be Honored at May 9 Graduation Ceremony

CHICAGO (May 9, 2009) — Erikson Institute faculty and trustees will award honorary doctoral degrees to Ann Lurie, president of Lurie Investments; president and treasurer of the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Foundation; and president of Africa Infectious Disease (AID) Village Clinics, Inc., a U.S.-based charity; and to Margaret Beale Spencer, Ph.D., Marshall Field IV Professor of Urban Education at the University of Chicago.

The honorary degrees will be presented during the 42nd annual graduation ceremony of Erikson Institute, one of the nation’s leading graduate schools in child development, at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 9, at the South Shore Cultural Center. Spencer will deliver the commencement address to 85 Erikson graduates receiving master’s degrees in child development or early childhood education.

“Our two honorees have done extraordinary work to improve the health and education of children in this country and abroad. Their work exemplifies Erikson’s values,” said Erikson president Samuel J. Meisels.

Ann Lurie is one of the nation’s leading philanthropists. While her giving has targeted education, human rights, the arts, and hunger, her primary focus has been medical research and health related issues, both locally and globally. Over the past 20 years, Lurie has given more than $250 million, including $100 million to construct the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

Among her many philanthropic ventures are the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University and the Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center of Northwestern University, both named for her late husband, as well as significant academic chairs in cancer research.

At the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Lurie funded the construction of the Robert H. Lurie Engineering Center and the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Tower, as well as noteworthy initiatives in the schools of Business and Social Work and the new Biomedical Engineering Center and Solid State Laboratory.

She founded and oversees the operation of Africa Infectious Disease Village Clinics, which offer comprehensive medical care and health care education for more than 100,000 Maasai in rural Kenya. In cooperation with Save the Children and ONE Love Africa, she funded construction of 30 rural schools in Ethiopia.

Lurie has received the honorary doctor of laws from the University of Michigan and the honorary doctor of public service from the University of Florida, as well as the Chicago Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Distinguished Philanthropist Award; the Jane Addams Making History Award from the Chicago History Museum; the Anti-Defamation League Lifetime of Achievement Award; and the 2009 Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Award for Humanitarian Contributions to the Health of Humankind.

She resides in Chicago and is the mother of six children. Before starting a family, she worked in public health and pediatric intensive care nursing in Florida and at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

Margaret Beale Spencer is a developmental psychologist who explores the processes of resiliency, identity, and competence formation among children and youth, particularly those growing up in low economic resource families and communities. She began her career studying male African-American adolescents; her current research includes Hispanic, Asian-American, and Euro-American youth. She has published widely on the subject, and her research has received funding from the National Institutes of Mental Health, National Science Foundation, and Ford, Anne E. Casey, and Annenberg Foundations, among others.

As a member of the National Research Council’s Committee on Representation of Minority Children in Special Education and Gifted Programs, Spencer drew national attention to the common practices of placing poorly prepared students in special education classrooms and neglecting to identify and nurture students who are gifted.

Spencer’s career has spanned more than 30 years and includes positions at Morehouse School of Medicine, Emory University, and the University of Pennsylvania, where she taught for 15 years. She is a member of the board of the Foundation for Child Development and a fellow of the American Psychological Association. She is former director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Collective Research Institute.

In 2006, Spencer was awarded a prestigious Alphonse Fletcher Sr. Fellowship for work contributing to improving race relations in the U.S. She is currently at work on a book about patterns of resiliency and resistance and the crafting of identities in a post–Brown era of privilege and risk.

Past recipients of honorary Erikson degrees include noted philanthropist and Erikson founder Irving B. Harris and his wife, Joan, a prominent supporter of the arts; Chicago’s First Lady Maggie Daley; National Black Child Development Institute founder Evelyn K. Moore; and Lella Gandini, widely known for promoting the approach to early childhood education developed in Reggio Emilia, Italy.

About Erikson Institute

Erikson is the nation’s only graduate school to focus exclusively on child development from birth to age eight. An independent institution of higher education, it prepares child development professionals for leadership through academic programs, applied research and community involvement. For more than 40 years, the Institute has advanced the ability of educators, practitioners, researchers and decision-makers to improve the lives of children and their families. Erikson alumni are active in many different fields, including education, infant mental health, childcare, social policy and research, family and social services and health services.

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