Edward Zigler Receives 2008 APA Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to Psychology

Edward Zigler, Yale University Sterling Professor of Psychology, Emeritus  has been selected as the 2008 recipient of the American Psychological Association (APA) Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to Psychology.Zigler will receive this most prestigious honor from the APA in Boston on August 14th during the annual convention.

“There are very few psychologists whose work has made such a difference as his,” said APA President Alan Kazdin, who selected Zigler for this award.

Known as the “Father of Head Start,” Zigler is one of the principal architects of the federal Head Start program and the founder of the Schools of the 21st Century (21C) initiative. The 21C program operates in conjunction with state governments and private foundations to transform schools into multi-service centers. The centers offer guidance and support for parents; all day, year-round preschool; before and after school and vacation care for school-age children; health education and services; training for child care providers; and information and referral services for families.

Since 1988, more than 1,300 schools in 20 states have implemented the Schools of the 21C program. The model has proved successful in urban, rural and suburban settings as well as in affluent, middle class and economically challenged communities.

Zigler supports the growing trend toward providing universal pre-kindergarten in American school systems. “Schools of the 21st Century and other community schools can be the salvation of schooling in America,” said Zigler.  “These schools are working toward increasing student achievement, which is first and foremost a function of whether children have had proper supports from early in their lives to promote their optimal development.”

Zigler received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1958. He joined the psychology department at Yale in 1959 and also served on the faculty of Yale’s Child Study Center.  He founded and is Director Emeritus of Yale’s Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy, one of the first centers in the nation to combine training in developmental science and social policy construction.

In addition to being one of the founders of the field of applied developmental psychology, Zigler pioneered the discipline of developmental psychopathology as well as the developmental approach to mental retardation and adult psychopathology.

During his 50-year career, Zigler helped to plan several national projects and policies, including Head Start, Early Head Start, and the Family and Medical Leave Act.  In the early ‘70’s, he served as the founding Director of the U.S. Office of Child Development (now ACYF) and Chief of the U.S. Children’s Bureau.

Zigler is the author, coauthor, or editor of over 800 scholarly publications and more than 38 books.  He is a member of the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has received many honorary degrees.

Zigler remains as active as ever in his scholarly and social policy endeavors. He regularly consults with state governors and legislatures on child development issues and he is actively lobbying the presidential candidates to include universal child care in their platforms.

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Media Contact

Karen N. Peart: karen.peart@yale.edu, 203-432-1326