Spencer Foundation Lectureship

About the Spencer Foundation Award

The APPAM Policy Council approved this award on April 8, 2005. The Spencer Foundation Lecture, awarded biennually, recognizes noteworthy contributions through research and analysis in the field of education policy and management. Funding for the award comes from the  Spencer Foundation, created by Lyle M. Spencer in 1962 to "investigate ways in which education, broadly conceived, can be improved around the world."

Dr. Russ Whitehurst, Emeritus Professor of Psychology Stony Brook University, is the recipient of the 2019 Spencer Foundation Award. As part of the award, Dr. Whitehurst delivered a lecture at the APPAM Fall Research Conference in November 2019. The lecture took place on Friday, November 8th, at the Sheraton Hotel Downtown Denver in Denver, CO. In addition, the winner receives $5,000 and support for travel expenses, and APPAM and the Spencer Foundation may arrange to publish the lecture. The recipient is expected to produce a written version of the lecture within a reasonable time after the public presentation.

russ_whitehurst_spencer_award_1_of_2Russ Whitehurst is Emeritus Professor of Pyschology at Stony Brook University. He previously served as the director of the Brown Center on Education Policy and as senior fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution. As the founding director of the Institute of Education Sciences within the U.S. Department of Education, he is widely acknowledged to have had a transforming effect on the rigor and relevance of education research. His particular contributions at IES include creation of the What Works Clearinghouse, establishment of standing grant competitions for education researchers, and overseeing the development of a robust program of rigorous large-scale field trials of federally funded education programs and practices.

In his earlier career as a developmental psychologist he carried out seminal research on early literacy, language development, and preschool education. A program he developed to enhance language development in children from low-income families, Dialogic Reading, is used in preschools around the world. He is a recipient of numerous professional awards, including the Microsoft Innovators in Higher Education Award, the Peter H. Rossi Award of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, and the Robert Boruch Award of the Campbell Collaboration.

APPAM President, and Spencer Award committee member Matt Stagner notes that “APPAM is delighted to present the Spencer Award to Dr. Whitehurst, whose pathbreaking leadership at IES, as well as numerous other contributions over a long career, have greatly improved the application of rigorous research to the thorniest problems in education.”

Any body of work will be considered, although the selection committee may, from time to time, decide to establish time limits for what may be considered. The selection committee may decide not to make an award in any particular year. The selection committee for the lecture consists of three people appointed by APPAM and two persons appointed by the Spencer Foundation. The 2019 Spencer Award Committee was comprised of Matt Stagner (Mathematica), Rebecca Maynard (University of Pennsylvania), Susan Dynarski (University of Michigan) and Na'ilah Suad Nasir (Spencer Foundation).

Nominations may be made by any individual or organization. (Individuals may nominate their own work.) The letter of nomination (with the nominee's current address, email address, and phone number) should detail the contributions made by the work to the field of education policy and management, and should include examples of the body of work.

Prior Winners