Campus & Community

First Suzanne Murray Professor named

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Nancy Hill chosen for Radcliffe professorship and HGSE appointment

The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study has named Nancy E. Hill, a leader in the study of cultural influences on parenting and adolescent achievement, the first Suzanne Murray Professor. Hill has also been appointed a professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), where she has served as a visiting associate professor. Both appointments are effective July 1, 2009.

The Murray professorship allows a newly tenured Harvard faculty member to spend four semesters as a Radcliffe Fellow during her or his first five years at Harvard. In addition, Hill’s research ideally positions her to collaborate with Radcliffe faculty leaders on the institute’s new policy studies initiatives as well as other academic activities.

“Nancy Hill is a national leader in research on parenting, parental involvement, family-school relations, and achievement in an increasingly diverse America,” said Barbara J. Grosz, dean of the Radcliffe Institute. “Dr. Hill’s research, which uses mixed methods, is highly relevant in the context of the national education agenda and has important implications for policy and practice. Her presence in the fellowship program will richly enhance Radcliffe’s cross-disciplinary scholarly community. We are deeply grateful to Suzanne Murray and Terrence Murray for making this appointment possible.”

Hill’s research centers on variations in parenting and family socialization practices across ethnic, socioeconomic status, and neighborhood contexts. She also focuses on demographic variations in the relations between family dynamics and children’s school performance and other developmental outcomes. Hill earned doctoral and master’s degrees in developmental psychology from Michigan State University and an undergraduate degree in psychology from Ohio State University.

Among her recent and ongoing projects are Project PASS (Promoting Academic Success for Students), a longitudinal study between kindergarten and fourth grade that examines family-related predictors of children’s early school performance; and Project Alliance/Projecto Alianzo, a multiethnic, longitudinal study of parental involvement in education at the transition between elementary and middle school. She is the co-founder of the Study Group on Race, Culture and Ethnicity, an interdisciplinary group of scientists who develop theory and methodology for defining and understanding the cultural context within diverse families.

“Understanding the factors that promote productive parental engagement and how it may vary by ethnicity is critical to closing the achievement gap,” said HGSE Dean Kathleen McCartney. “I am grateful to Radcliffe Dean Barbara Grosz for her help in recruiting Dr. Hill. Their Suzanne Murray Professorship will enable Dr. Hill to establish her lab at Harvard as well as to connect with fellow scholars across the University.”

The Suzanne Murray Professorship was endowed in 2000 with a generous gift from Harvard alumnus Terrence Murray in honor of his wife, Radcliffe alumna Suzanne Murray, and with matching funds from Harvard.

A member of the Radcliffe College Class of 1962, former member of the Radcliffe Board of Trustees, and national co-chair of the Campaign for Radcliffe, Suzanne Murray played a vital role in forming the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

“Terry and I are so pleased to learn of the appointment of Nancy Hill as the first Suzanne Murray Professor at the Radcliffe Institute,” said Suzanne Murray.  “It is an honor to have with us an educator of her extensive background and expertise in the critical area of developmental psychology.”

Terrence Murray ’62 is currently a director of both A.T. Cross Co. and Choice Point Inc. He was formerly chairman and chief executive officer of FleetBoston Financial Corp.