Carol Lee to Receive Honorary Doctorate from University of Pretoria

Carol Lee to Receive Honorary Doctorate from University of Pretoria

Carol Lee

SESP professor Carol Lee has new evidence that her pioneering work influences educators as far away as South Africa. The University of Pretoria is awarding Lee an honorary doctoral degree, the university’s highest form of recognition.

The degree is being awarded in recognition of Lee’s respected role in the field of education, where her work “inspires both new and established scholars,” according to professor Cheryl de la Rey, vice chancellor and principal of the University of Pretoria. Her letter states that the university is honoring the pioneering quality of Lee’s scholarship and the relevance of Lee’s work to “practical educational issues that are currently of significance to the South African education system.”

She will receive the honorary degree during graduation ceremonies held in the spring.

Lee is widely known for developing a theory of cultural modeling that provides a framework for the design of curriculum drawing on forms of prior knowledge that traditionally underserved students bring to classrooms.

The Tarry Professor of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University, Lee is the immediate past president of the American Education Research Association, a member of the National Academy of Education, a fellow of the National Conference of Research on Language and Literacy, and a former fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences. She is the author of two books, Culture, Literacy and Learning and Signifying as a Scaffold for Literary Interpretation. She has also published in numerous journals, including Reading Research Quarterly, Research in the Teaching of English, The Journal of Black Psychology, and the Journal of Negro Education, among others

Several major awards have recognized her contributions to education. These include the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the Martin E. and Gertrude G. Walder Award for Research Excellence, the National Council of Teachers of English Distinguished Service Award, and the AERA Scholars of Color Distinguished Scholar Award. She has been a member of the faculty of the School of Education and Social Policy and African American Studies since 1991. 

One of Lee’s current research projects, with the goal of improving reading comprehension among middle school and high school students, is part of a $19.2 million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences. Other research projects have been funded by the McDonnell Foundation, Spencer Foundation, National Center for the Study of At-Risk Children and National Council of Teachers of English.

She is a founder and former director of an African-centered independent school in Chicago, New Concept School, which began in 1974. She is also a founder of an African-centered charter school with three campuses, the Betty Shabazz International Charter School. Lee is active in the school reform movement in Chicago Public Schools as well as in professional development for teachers both locally and nationally, and she taught in both public and private schools before assuming a university career.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 9/12/12