A celebrated career
Colleagues, family, students gather to honor psychologist Izard
9:24 a.m., Oct. 26, 2012--A crowd of nearly 100 gathered on the University of Delaware campus on Monday, Oct. 22, to celebrate the career of Carroll Izard, Trustees Distinguished Professor of Psychology and a pioneer in emotions research, particularly in relation to young children.
The festschrift, an event held to honor an academic career, included a keynote speech, numerous tributes to Izard from colleagues and former students, a reception and dinner.
Ballroom dance honors
"Our department was honored to have this opportunity to celebrate the work and impact of our famous colleague," Gregory Miller, professor and chair of the psychology department, said.
“Professor Izard’s long and illustrious career has had a major impact on our understanding of emotion, the development of emotion in children, how emotion can be disrupted in mental illness and how we can intervene early in life to foster healthy, adaptive emotion throughout the lifespan.”
Since joining the UD faculty in 1976, Izard has focused his previous work with emotional development on infants and preschool-age children. He developed an Emotions Course for Young Children, which consists of a 20-week intervention, with short lessons that preschool teachers can lead with the help of an instruction manual.
Because poverty creates stress in children, Izard has concentrated on testing and assessing the program in Head Start classrooms, which serve lower-income families. Children in stressful situations more often have difficulty understanding and coping with emotions, a problem that can lead to social and academic problems as they continue in elementary school and later.
Izard and his research team, including both graduate and undergraduate students, are in the final year of a five-year study, funded by a $2.7 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, to measure the program's effectiveness. In the first two years of the study, researchers compared the results of children receiving Izard's intervention with those in classes using a different educational program about emotions. They found that Izard's Emotions Course was more effective in regulating children's classroom behavior.
The work has been used in Spain and Italy and is being translated for use in Brazil.
"When we reflect on the career of Carroll Izard, it's clear that this is a man whose research and scholarship have made a profound impact on the field of psychology," George Watson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said at the festschrift. "It's remarkable work, with wide reach."
The keynote speech at the celebration was delivered by Dante Cicchetti, McKnight Presidential Chair and William Harris Professor of Child Development and Psychiatry at the University of Minnesota's Institute of Child Development.
Article by Ann Manser
Photos by Lane McLaughlin