Giants of Literacy

Giants of Literacy

At left, Virginia Goatley receives the Albert J. Kingston Award from the Literacy Research Association last Thursday. At right,

The School of Education’s legacy in literacy was on prominent display last week in a national showcase for those advancing the field in theory, research and practice.

Virginia Goatley, chair and professor of Literacy Teaching & Learning at UAlbany, received the Albert J. Kingston Award from the Literacy Research Association (LRA) at the association’s annual meeting on Thursday in Indian Wells, Calif. The award, presented each year since 1985 to one individual, honors an LRA member for distinguished contributions of service to the association.

The University was not only a major receiver at the meeting but a major bestower as well, co-presenting the second annual Arthur Applebee Award for Excellence in Research on Literacy to a team of three U.S. researchers.

The Applebee prize — UAlbany’s first endowed national research award — honors the memory of an internationally renowned scholar in the fields of literacy and language learning who taught at UAlbany from 1987 to his death in 2015. Along with his wife, Judith Langer, he co-directed the National Research Center on Literature Teaching and Learning.

Goatley, whose research primarily deals with preventing reading and writing difficulties for children and who is co-editor of the Journal of Literacy Research, was praised in a joint statement from educators Cynthia Brock of the University of Wyoming and Fenice Boyd of the University of South Carolina: “Dr. Goatley has selflessly provided in-depth and innovative service to LRA for over a quarter of a century.”

This service began in 1993-94, when Goatley, as a graduate student, created LRA’s first Graduate Student Study Group. Since then, she served on five LRA committees, each time being asked and agreeing to extend her time on a committee by a year to insure its success. Brock and Boyd lauded her as well for delivering one or more presentations “virtually every year at LRA for over a quarter of a century,” and for mentoring numerous students who went onto LRA membership, including one who became the association’s president.

“We’re thrilled to see the LRA recognize the lifetime contribution of Dr. Goatley,” said Jason E. Lane, Interim Dean of the School of Education. “Not only has she been an important force for advancing the association, but her servant leadership has been evident in advancing the mission of her department, the School of Education, and the University since she joined the faculty.”

Goatley co-chaired (and will chair through 2021) the LRA committee that created and will maintain the Applebee award, endowed through the University at Albany Foundation and rewarding research having national and international impact. She collaborated with Langer, David Pearson of the University of California-Berkeley and Elizabeth Dutro of the University of Colorado Boulder on the effort. The inaugural award was presented at last year’s LRA meeting.

The recipients of this year’s Applebee award were Amy Stornaiuolo of the University of Pennsylvania, Anna Smith of Illinois State University and Nathan Phillips of University of Illinois-Chicago for their citation, “Developing a Transliteracies Framework for a Connected World,” published in the 2017 edition of the Journal of Literacy Research.

The award is a fitting tribute to Applebee (1946-2015), a SUNY Distinguished Professor (2007) whose research continues to influence educators around the globe.

“The School of Education is proud to be the home of the University at Albany’s first endowed national research award,” Lane said. “The award recognizes the important contributions of Professor Applebee to the University and the academic literacy community. It also extends the long-standing relationship between the University and LRA, as well as the critical leadership role of the University at Albany as New York’s first public school of education.”

Judith Langer was on hand to pay tribute to her late husband and colleague. Applebee’s stepson, Gary Langer, an internationally recognized survey researcher and president of Langer Research Associates, commented, “I’m profoundly grateful for the combined efforts of the Arthur N. Applebee Memorial Fund, the University at Albany and the Literacy Research Association to keep Arthur’s legacy alive.”

Those wishing to donate to the Arthur N. Applebee Memorial Fund may go to the Campaign for the University at Albany website, and link onto “View All Areas of Support.”