Neag Alumna Sets Up Planned Gift for Literacy Research
By Grace Merritt
Dr. Julie M. Wood '71 (BS), '72 (MA) is grateful for the safe haven UConn gave her during the turbulent 1970s, and she recently began thinking about how she could give back.
Dr. Wood (Harvard '99), a renowned educational consultant, decided to leave a planned gift to UConn that will support research in an area close to her heart: children's literacy. She has set up an endowment that will generate funding every year for a faculty member in the Neag School of Education to conduct research in effective practices to support children's literacy development.
Dr. Wood has devoted her life to developing literacy in young children. An international educational consultant, she worked with publishers to develop textbooks, curricula, and technology programs to help all children succeed, especially those in underserved communities.
She was pleased when UConn President Tom Katsouleas announced that his goal was to double the research efforts at UConn. She hopes her gift will help bring even greater respect and visibility to the Neag School.
She says the UConn Foundation staff worked closely with her to create a planned gift that would feel right for her. It was easy to set it up, satisfying to leave everything in place, and think about it for the future, she says.
"The older one gets, the more one thinks in terms of a legacy and really leaving something to the next generation," she says. "For me, I can't think of a better cause because I do believe so strongly in education and believe in Neag Dean Gladis Kersaint."
When Dr. Wood attended UConn in the early '70s, she and other students were facing down a recession, the Vietnam War, and turbulent social unrest.
"I felt that UConn had just saved me," she says. "It was my intellectual base, my haven, during a very stressful time in our nation—with many parallels to today," she says. "I found the faculty very inspiring and supportive."
After graduating and earning a master's degree from UConn, Dr. Wood worked for 11 years as a literacy specialist and fourth-grade teacher in Amherst, New Hampshire. Then, she became involved in educational publishing and, eventually, media development, creating videos for children.
She also taught as an adjunct professor at Harvard's Graduate School of Education, where she earned a second master's degree and a doctorate. She now consults from her home office in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she lives with her husband, John, a retired scientist.
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