Temple Times Online Edition
    NOVEMBER 10, 2005
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PNC funds professor in early childhood ed

The position is the first named professorship in the College of Education

Strengthening a longstanding commitment to improve the literacy and school readiness of preschool children throughout Philadelphia, Temple and PNC Bank have entered into a partnership to endow a professorship in early childhood education in the College of Education.

The PNC Professorship in Early Childhood Education at Temple will be funded by a $1 million grant from the PNC Foundation, the charitable foundation of PNC Bank, a member of The PNC Financial Services Group Inc.

The professorship, the first-ever named professorship in the College of Education, will help Temple assist young children through existing partnerships with city schools and an ambitious research agenda in areas of early childhood education and literacy.

Temple and PNC formally announced the professorship during a celebration on Nov. 9 at the Paul Lawrence Dunbar School, adjacent to Main Campus.

“The professorship establishes at Temple the capacity to stimulate research, improve teaching and expand community collaboration in the field of early childhood literacy and education, as well as foster public awareness and support,” President David Adamany said.

Temple’s mission of enhancing and improving early childhood education is one that’s shared by PNC through its successful PNC Grow Up Great program, according to James E. Rohr, chairman and chief executive officer of PNC.

“Endowing the PNC Professorship in Early Childhood Education is another important element of PNC Grow Up Great, our 10-year, $100 million investment in early childhood education, and the nation’s most significant corporate commitment to the issue,” Rohr said.

“We believe that investing in the future of our children is truly a business issue,” added J.

William Mills III, president of PNC Bank in Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. “We enjoy a longstanding partnership with Temple and know that their College of Education will use this professorship to enhance early childhood education research and policy nationally, as well as help train teachers locally.”

Barbara Wasik, who joined Temple this fall from Johns Hopkins University, will be nominated to take the PNC Professorship. Her primary research interests include language and literacy development, particularly with regard to children and teachers involved in Head Start programs.

The new collaboration with PNC brings many benefits to the children of Philadelphia. Children in Temple’s four partnership schools, including Dunbar, stand to gain from the PNC–Temple partnership and the professorship through the University’s training and support of teachers and student tutors.

Schools throughout the region can look to Temple as a source of teachers, information and support related to quality early childhood education and development, according to Kent McGuire, dean of the College of Education.

But the partnership also will have additional, far-reaching impact through research, led by Wasik, focused on strategies that promote the academic success of preschool-age children, particularly in urban environments, McGuire said.

“Through both new teaching and research endeavors, the College of Education will be in a better position to articulate policy options for improving early education and care,” he said.

Already a force in city schools — Temple’s more than 35,000 education alumni make up the largest group of teachers, administrators, educational leaders and counselors in the Delaware Valley — the University is well-positioned to make an even greater contribution, according to McGuire.

“Certainly, this gift will help us make a tremendous impact on the underserved community surrounding Temple and greatly enhance efforts to prepare at-risk children for school — and for life,” he said.

Last year, 53 Temple undergraduates worked as tutors for a total of 4,200 hours in the University’s partnership schools, which include four Head Start programs. Additionally, the College of Education supports — and anticipates expanding — the new JumpStart program, which currently employs close to 40 undergraduates from a variety of majors to work with at-risk 3- to 5-year-olds.

“Training teachers to use effective, research-based strategies that can improve young children’s language and literacy opportunities will result in young children being better prepared for their transition to school,” said Wasik, whose research focuses on early literacy interventions with Head Start and preschool children.

“By supporting early childhood, PNC is on the cutting edge of initiatives that will have a significant impact on the lives of the most vulnerable young children.”

Through PNC Grow Up Great, PNC has taken a holistic approach to enhance early childhood education and research by giving grants, providing volunteers to preschool centers in the markets where it does business, making educational materials and tips available in its branch offices, and using its influence to advocate for consistent access to high-quality preschool for children, according to Mills.

PNC employees, he said, are given 40 hours of paid time off annually to volunteer for school-readiness and work-related programs.

The $1 million grant was provided by the PNC Foundation, which is the second-largest corporate foundation based in Pennsylvania. The PNC Foundation benefits the communities served by PNC with contributions to organizations that support community development, culture and the arts, education, health and human services, and civic activities.

- By Barbara Baals