Philanthropist and language development researcher honored at commencement

Erikson held its 44th annual commencement ceremony on May 7 at The Field Museum. Susan Buffett, chair of the Buffett Early Childhood Fund and the Sherwood Foundation, and Dr. Eugene García, vice president for education partnerships at Arizona State University, received honorary doctoral degrees.

Seventy-three graduates received master’s degrees in child development or early childhood education and four received doctoral degrees in child development.

Watch excerpt of Dr. García’s commencement address »

Susan Buffett

Susie Buffett

Susan Buffett is a prominent national advocate for quality care in early childhood. She is the founder and chair of the Sherwood Foundation, which focuses on social justice initiatives, such as improving public education and alleviating poverty in Omaha, Nebraska. She also chairs the Buffett Early Childhood Fund, which invests in education for young children in low-income families by building, supporting, and evaluating the nationwide Educare Schools network. The fund also seeks to improve state and federal early childhood policies.

In addition to her leadership of these critical education foundations, Ms. Buffett serves on several national nonprofit boards, including ONE, Ounce of Prevention Fund, Girls, Inc., and Fulfillment Fund. In Omaha, she serves on the board of the Rose Blumkin Performing Arts Center Foundation and Building Bright Futures, among others.

Dr. Eugene García

Eugene Garcia

Dr. Eugene García is one of the nation’s most eminent researchers in the teaching of language and bilingual language development, authoring or co-authoring more than 200 articles and book chapters, as well as 14 books and monographs. He currently serves as vice president for education partnerships at Arizona State University. In this role, he helps develop strategic collaborations with schools and private-sector organizations to improve the academic performance of Arizona’s K–12 students. Dr. Garcia has also held administrative and faculty positions at the Mary Lou Fulton College of Education on the Arizona State Tempe campus; and the University of California’s Berkeley, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz campuses.

Honored by AERA, SRCD, NAEYC, ASCD, and AAHHE for his research contributions, Dr. García holds leadership positions in professional organizations and continues to serve in an editorial capacity for psychological, linguistic, and educational journals. He also serves regularly as a proposal panel reviewer for federal, state, and foundation agencies.

Past honorary degree recipients

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; Lella Gandini, widely known for promoting the approach to early childhood education developed in Reggio Emilia, Italy; philanthropist Ann Lurie; and family support advocate Bernice Weissbourd.