The University of Miami School of Education and Human Development has announced that David Lawrence Jr., a nationally known early childhood education advocate, community leader, and former newspaper editor and publisher, has joined the school as “Education and Community Leadership Scholar.”
“We are extremely proud and pleased to have Dave Lawrence join us,” said Isaac Prilleltensky, dean of the school. “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.”
In his new duties at the UM School of Education and Human Development, Lawrence is appointed to the Teaching and Learning Department where he will serve as a guest lecturer in both Teaching and Learning and the Educational and Psychological Studies Departments. He also will assist Dean Prilleltensky in the planning and administration of strategic priorities to advance the mission of the school. He will continue to lead the Early Childhood Initiative Foundation, based in Miami, and the Children’s Movement of Florida.
“This will be my lifetime’s first opportunity to be in a classroom regularly to teach and learn and contribute — and otherwise help the dean any way I can,” Lawrence said. “It so fits in with my work to build a movement for America’s children.”
After a long prestigious career in journalism and retiring as publisher of The Miami Herald in 1999, Lawrence has 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 his mission is to make children’s needs the top agenda for the state. 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.
For his work, 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 and 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.