Preeminent Scholar Edmund Gordon Named AERA Honorary President
Preeminent Scholar Edmund Gordon Named AERA Honorary President
 
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April 2021

On April 12, AERA installed distinguished education researcher Edmund W. Gordon as AERA’s honorary president during a special ceremony at the association’s 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting. Gordon, who will celebrate his 100th birthday in June, is the first person in AERA’s 105-year history to receive this recognition. The live broadcast of the event drew more than 370 viewers from more than 20 countries.

Gordon is the John M. Musser Professor of Psychology, Emeritus, at Yale University; the Richard March Hoe Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University; and founding and emeritus director of the college’s Institute for Urban and Minority Education. He is renowned for his pioneering scholarship on the gaps in educational opportunities and supports for children of color and low-income students.

Edmund W. Gordon, ASL Interpreter Jo Ellen,
and Felice J. Levine

“This is a very special moment for AERA and for the field of education research,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine in her welcoming comments. “We are thrilled to be here today to recognize Dr. Gordon’s countless contributions to scholarship, to society, and to the individual lives of so many.”

Levine and AERA 2020 President Shaun R. Harper were joined by Kenji Hakuta (Stanford University), who led a brief conversation with Gordon, and four former AERA presidents: Linda Darling Hammond (Learning Policy Institute), Carol D. Lee (Northwestern University), James A. Banks (University of Washington), and Amy Stuart Wells (Teachers College, Columbia University).

Hakuta noted that Gordon had internalized throughout his life and career an early lesson from his father—that “people who are privileged have responsibilities for helping less privileged people”—and developed and practiced this distinctive version of moral scholarship through his career.

“What your centennial affords us is an understanding of how the academy, scholars of the nature of knowledge, the producers of knowledge, and the potential beneficiaries of the knowledge have grappled with important societal issues, including but not limited to the problem of the color line,” said Hakuta.

Kenji Hakuta, Edmund W. Gordon, and
ASL Interpreter Brad Holt

Hakuta highlighted Gordon’s willingness to mentor and his impact on the next generation of scholars.

“You attracted and mentored a remarkable collection of younger scholars and activists,” said Hakuta. “You have highlighted and celebrated an intra-generational model of development of scholarship. What a remarkable legacy you’ve left us.”

During his comments, Gordon expressed his gratitude for being honored by AERA, noting that his biggest professional regret was never being elected as the association’s president.

“I’m enormously proud, pleased, and moved that AERA has designated me the honorary president,” said Gordon. “I hope that you remember [my] centennial not for me but for the work that comes out of it. We got to work on the achievement of equity in education, which requires customization, differentiation, adequacy, and efficiency.”

Following Gordon’s comments, the four former AERA presidents offered brief remarks to welcome Gordon to his presidency, and Harper read the AERA Council proclamation conferring the title of AERA Honorary President on Gordon:

“Whereas Dr. Edmund W. Gordon’s contributions to education research and national education policies span more than seven decades, and whereas Dr. Gordon served as one of the primary architects of the nation’s Head Start program and was influential in the development of first Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 1965;

Whereas Dr. Gordon championed a vision of supplemental education as a strategy to level the education playing field for underserved children of color;

Whereas Dr. Gordon has played a leading role in advancing the association’s work toward genuine inclusion, particularly for persons of color as reflected in the work of the AERA Task Force on the Role and Future of Minorities;

Whereas Dr. Gordon served as the organizer and chair of the Gordon Commission on the Future of Assessment in Education, which called for a national effort to transform assessment into a broad-based strategy for enabling America’s diverse student populations to learn to their fullest potential;

Whereas Dr. Gordon has been a generous, compassionate, and caring mentor who has profoundly affected the lives and careers of scholars for decades;

Therefore, with one voice and with one heart, to commemorate and honor the exceptional and extraordinary contributions to education research, to the essentiality of valuing and supporting others, and to the advancing of science, human judgment, and human justice as intricately connected, AERA hereby officially accords the title of Honorary President with all the attendant powers and prerogatives on Dr. Edmund Gordon.

Edmund W. Gordon, ASL Interpreter Brad Holt,
and Shaun Harper

Gordon thanked Harper and gave credit to the generation of scholars after him.

“I get credit for a large number of young people, predominantly of color, that I have helped along the way,” said Gordon. “But as I reflect on this past 80 years, I have learned so much from people coming after me who are simply discharged with what my father told me. That was that if you get inside the door, your job is to hold it open for somebody else.”

The ceremony concluded with a video tribute to Gordon’s lifelong achievements. Watch the complete event on AERA’s YouTube channel.

 
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