Thursday, January 6, 2022

Christine Ogren, associate professor in the UI College of Education’s Department of Educational Policy and Leadership Studies, is the recipient of a Spencer Foundation grant to write a scholarly book on education research philanthropist Lyle Spencer.

In 1938, Spencer was a 27-year-old graduate student in sociology at the University of Chicago when he founded Science Research Associates, the educational publishing firm which provided the basis of his wealth and ultimately made possible the creation of The Spencer Foundation."

The Spencer Foundation
has been a leading funder of education research since 1971 and is the only national foundation focused exclusively on supporting education research."

The $176,038 grant, which runs 2022-24, will fund Ogren’s archival work and the writing of a scholarly book, featuring the life and history of Spencer to understand his vision for the foundation that bears his name.

The book will highlight Spencer’s education, career, and service as a university and United Negro College Fund trustee. Ogren’s investigation of Spencer’s experiences in the context of the Cold War and the early Civil Rights Movement will reveal the roots of the Spencer Foundation’s commitment to improving society through rigorous and relevant education research.

The audience for this book includes not only Spencer Foundation officers and grant recipients, but anyone with an interest in the history and political dimensions of research in education,” Ogren says. “Spencer’s efforts to improve education practice and the body of scholarship that is his legacy offer insights into the past as well as the future of education research.”

Ogren has
nearly three decades of experience as a historian of education. She is co-editor of Rethinking Campus Life: New Perspectives on the History of College Students in the United States (2018); author of The American State Normal School: “An Instrument of Great Good” (2005); and has published articles in History of Education QuarterlyPaedagogica HistoricaTeaching EducationHigher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, and other journals. 

She is also a former president of the History of Education Society and is currently completing a book on the history of how U.S. teachers have spent their “summers off.”