French Named Earl B. Taylor Professor

Lucia French, a developmental psychologist and professor in the counseling and human development and teaching and curriculum programs at the University of Rochester's Warner School of Education, has been appointed the Earl B. Taylor Professor of Education.

A member of the Warner School faculty since 1982, French explores the relations between language development and cognitive development during early childhood. She is nationally known for the development of ScienceStart!, the Warner School's science-based preschool curriculum designed to foster language development, learning, cognition, and school readiness.

"I am delighted that such a distinguished scholar as Lucia French will assume the Earl B. Taylor Professor of Education," said Raffaella Borasi, dean of the Warner School. "Her work on child development and early childhood education truly bridges research and practice, and as such clearly personifies the spirit of the Warner School's mission. Her contributions are not only widely recognized by researchers, but have also directly impacted early childhood education in Rochester."

Initial funding from the Eastman Kodak Company's 21st Century Learning Challenge allowed French to develop the ScienceStart! early childhood curriculum, which capitalizes on children's natural curiosity about the world around them, and uses science as a vehicle to build the rich knowledge base and cognitive and social skills needed for healthy development and academic success. She has received more than $5 million from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education to field test and expand the curriculum.

ScienceStart! was featured at Mayor Robert Duffy's Leadership Summit on Literacy, in November 2006, as one of twelve local promising practices and recognized as a model experiential/applied learning program in Rochester. The Summit's objectives were to formulate a community-wide action plan to promote the awareness of and involvement in advancing literacy and to identify and develop partnerships that will enhance local literacy programs.

French's groundbreaking work, in which she has collaborated extensively with doctoral students and preschool teachers, has been featured in Education Week. She also is the author of Young Children's Understanding of Relational Terms: Some ifs, ors, and buts, (Springer-Vertag, 1985) and numerous chapters and articles in developmental psychology.

French has been a Spencer Fellow of the National Academy of Education and a Fulbright-Hayes Research Scholar. Through her Fulbright sponsored research in Korea, she developed the theoretical framework for how preschool programs could best support language development that informed the design of ScienceStart!

French earned her bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees, all in psychology, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She currently teaches courses in child development and early childhood education and supervises doctoral students.

The professorship she assumes was established by the University of Rochester Board of Trustees in 1948 to honor Earl B. Taylor, a 1912 graduate and a professor of education at the University of Rochester from 1928 to 1946. The University's Taylor Hall also is named for him. Previous holders of the Professorship are Henry C. Mills, 1949 to 1955; Byron B. Williams, 1964 to 1967; William A. Fullagar, 1968 to 1980; and most recently Tyll van Geel, 1996 to 2006.

Tags: human development, language development, literacy, Lucia French, National Science Foundation, preschool education, science education, ScienceStart!, US Department of Education