July 09, 2012 — Coral Gables — David Lawrence Jr., a nationally known early childhood education advocate, community leader, and former publisher of The Miami Herald, has joined the School of Education and Human Development as its first Education and Community Leadership Scholar.
“We are extremely proud and pleased to have Dave Lawrence join us,” said Dean Isaac Prilleltensky. “In his long and illustrious career he has been tireless in his fight to improve the lives of children through a focus on early education and community engagement. His experience and sensitivity to the issues of education in our community will help enhance our curriculum and bring new excitement to our school.”
Lawrence will serve as a guest lecturer in the Departments of Teaching and Learning and Educational and Psychological Studies. He will also assist Dean Prilleltensky in the planning and administration of strategic priorities to advance the school’s mission. Lawrence will continue to lead the Miami-based Early Childhood Initiative Foundation and the Children’s Movement of Florida.
“This will be my first opportunity to be in a classroom regularly to teach and learn and contribute — and otherwise help the dean any way I can,” said Lawrence. “It so fits in with my work to build a movement for America’s children.”
After a prestigious journalism career, which included serving as publisher of The Miami Herald and the Detroit Free Press, Lawrence dedicated himself to early childhood development and readiness. As president of The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation and head of The Children’s Movement of Florida, he has helped place the needs of children atop the state’s agenda. Through his leadership in 2002 and again in 2008, he spearheaded campaigns for The Children’s Trust, a dedicated source of early intervention and prevention funding for the children of Miami-Dade.
Lawrence serves as The Children’s Trust founding board chair. He was a central figure in the passage of the statewide constitutional amendment for free prekindergarten availability for all 4-year-olds in Florida.
Lawrence has been honored with countless awards including “Child Advocate of the Year” by Family Central, “Health Care Hero” by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, and the “Children’s Champion” award from the National Black Child Development Institute. He holds 12 honorary degrees. A Miami-Dade County Public School is named in his honor.
Lawrence has long been associated with the University of Florida — as a journalism graduate, the recipient of an honorary doctorate, a life member of the UF Foundation, and for the past decade as University Scholar for Early Childhood Development and Readiness. A UF chair in early childhood studies is named for him.
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