NACU Announces Margaret Beale Spencer as 2023 Boyer Award Recipient

August 17

The New American Colleges and Universities (NACU) is honored to announce Margaret Beale Spencer as the 2023 Ernest L. Boyer Award Recipient. Dr. Spencer is a renowned developmental psychologist and educator whose scholarship has centered on how ethnicity, gender and race affect youth and adolescent development.

NACU is a consortium of private, comprehensive institutions that purposefully integrate liberal arts, professional preparation and civic engagement which honors the legacy of Ernest Boyer who called for higher education and scholarship to be a service to society. NACU campuses connect their students with their communities to ensure that students understand their roles as responsible citizens. The Boyer Award pays tribute to Ernest Boyer by honoring others who are making significant contributions to American higher education and society as a whole.

“Dr. Spencer’s contributions to the field of higher education are truly remarkable,” said Sean Creighton, president of NACU. “Her dedication, passion and innovative research have allowed others to better understand the important factors that influence development in young people. We are delighted to recognize her achievements and celebrate her lifelong commitment to advancing education.”

About Dr. Spencer

Dr. Spencer is the Charles L. Grey Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Comparative Human Development and the Marshall Field IV Professor Emeritus of Urban Education and Life Course Human Development at the University of Chicago. Dr.  Spencer’s adolescent-focused research addresses resiliency, identity and competence formation processes of African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American and Euro-American youth. Her research and programming applications explore youths’ emerging capacity for healthy outcomes and constructive coping methods while developing under generally unacknowledged and highly stressful conditions.

Not only is she an exceptional leader in the education of young minds, but she was also awarded the Urie Bronfenbrenner Award for Distinguished Contributions to Developmental Science from the American Psychological Association  as well as awarded its Lifetime Achievement Award. She has also received the Society for Research in Child Development Award for Distinguished Contributions to Cultural and Ecological Research, received elected membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Over the course of her career, Beale Spencer has produced  more than 150 publications and has changed the way people think and learn about race, ethnicity and child development. Her latest book, “Radical Brown: Keeping the Promise to America’s Children” (Spencer & Dowd) is expected to be published this October.

“The recognition by NACU is particularly appreciated given the collectively espoused values that mirror those of Ernest Boyer. As well, I am committed to the production but also the use of scholarship applied in support of the common good and to improve the situations of all individuals and communities. I recognize that the professorate has a fundamental role to play in the process by the production, translation and implementation of knowledge representing values emphasizing the critical importance of education for all. Providing a foundational service, it is the vehicle for social cohesion, the recognition of shared humanity, and “glue” for healthy, humanity-acknowledging interpersonal relations irrespective of individual characteristics or historical circumstances. Thus, this award represents an especially appreciated recognition of my efforts to live those values during the preceding 50 years as a knowledge producer, communicator and implementer.”

Dr. Spencer

About the Boyer Award Presentation and Lecture

The 2023 NACU Ernest L. Boyer Award Presentation & Lecture will take place virtually on Wednesday, October 25, from 2 – 3:15 pm ET. NACU Board Chair Fayneese Miller, president of Hamline University, will present the award. Following the presentation, Dr.  Spencer will deliver a lecture on “Vulnerability and Resilience.” She will discuss what vulnerability means for diverse communities given resource inequality and how we can make assets more accessible and equitable to foster resilience for all people.