Professor Margaret Beale Spencer, PhD'76 to Receive Honorary Doctorate from Northwestern University

Dean's Office

Margaret Beale Spencer, Marshall Field IV Professor of Urban Education and alum of the Committee on Human Development, has been selected to receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Northwestern University. These honorary degrees are conferred during Northwestern’s annual commencement ceremony to a small number of people each year who have made exceptional contributions to fields valued by the University.

Spencer received her PhD in Child and Developmental Psychology at the University of Chicago. Her adolescent-focused research addresses resiliency, identity, and competence formation processes of African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American, and Curo-American youth. Her current emphasis on multi-ethnic youth evolves from a longstanding interest in the development of African-American populations, particularly male children and youth who grow up in low-economic resource families and communities. Her research and programming applications explore youth’s emerging capacity for healthy outcomes and constructive coping methods while developing under generally unacknowledged and highly stressful conditions.

She has published approximately 100 articles and chapters since 1973, completed three edited volumes, and received funding for more than three dozen research proposals from foundations and federal agencies. Most recently, she was awarded the 2006 Fletcher Fellowship, which recognizes work that furthers the broad social goals of the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954. She joined the faculty of the University of Chicago, Department of Comparative Human Development and the College in 2009.

Before returning to Chicago, she was Director of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Health Achievement Neighborhood Growth and Ethnic Studies (CHANGES), and also guided as its director the W. E. B. Du Bois Collective Research Institute.

Spencer will receive the award on Friday, June 19, 2015. Later during the day, she will also provide the convocation keynote for Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy. Honorary degrees at Northwestern are awarded principally to those who have distinguished themselves in the fields of teaching, learning, research, writing, and performance in the arts. In limited numbers, however, those who have achieved distinction through their special contributions to society at large or more specifically to Northwestern University and its community are appropriate candidates.


For more information about the conferring of Margaret Beale Spencer's honorary degree, visit Northwestern's announcement here.