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Shirley Brice Heath


Shirley Brice Heath

Doctor of Humane Letters (honoris causa)

Mr. President, I have the honor of presenting Shirley Brice Heath, distinguished linguistic anthropologist and professor emerita at Stanford University.

Dr. Heath, your research has spanned the disciplines of anthropology, sociology, linguistics and education, bringing you into the classrooms and neighborhoods of underserved and under-resourced populations in the United States and abroad. Over the years, you’ve dedicated yourself to the proposition that effective learning environments thrive in milieus both formal and organic — from schools to neighborhood organizations to street theaters — to cultivate citizens of consequence. Dating back to the 1950s your work has involved the lives, the language and the cultural institutions in low-income and minority areas, helping demystify the ways in which people learn and championing the value of individual cultures and language in the education process.

Your commitment to urban education and community organization resonates with us here at Clark University, where we have forged a partnership with the Main South neighborhood and helped establish a school in our own back yard. You have walked this walk, as an elementary and secondary school teacher, as a university professor, and as an esteemed researcher who has spread your message to educators on five continents that diversity supplies vibrancy to the learning experience.

Dr. Heath, as a scholar, author and filmmaker, you continue to devote yourself to the study and promotion of sustainable positive learning environments. Your efforts have been recognized with the MacArthur Prize, and through fellowships from the Guggenheim, Ford and Rockefeller foundations, as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities. These organizations recognize the depth and breadth of a career that we honor today.

Mr. President, on behalf of the Trustees, faculty, students and staff of Clark University, I request that the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, be conferred on Dr. Shirley Brice Heath.