Dr. Julian C. Stanley, 87, education pioneer

August 14, 2005|By Sandy Alexander | Sandy Alexander,SUN STAFF

Dr. Julian C. Stanley, a psychologist, researcher and pioneer in the field of identifying and teaching gifted students, died of pneumonia Friday at Howard County General Hospital. The Columbia resident was 87.

More than 1 million middle school-age pupils have taken the College Board's SAT test as part of the talent searches Mr. Stanley developed to identify youngsters who excel academically. His work influenced school systems and colleges across the country.

Dr. Stanley helped found the Center for Talented Youth at the Johns Hopkins University in 1979 and similar centers at Northwestern University in Illinois, Duke University in North Carolina and the University of Denver.

"He did more to impact the lives of gifted students and their families and to provide the services they need than any other single person," said Joyce Van Tassel-Baska, president of the National Association of Gifted Children.

Dr. Stanley was born in East Point, Ga., and graduated from what was then West Georgia Junior College and from Georgia Southern University. He taught math in Atlanta high schools until World War II, when he worked in the Army Air Forces' Chemical Warfare Service.

After his discharge, he used the GI Bill to earn a doctorate in psychology from Harvard University in 1950.

He taught at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee and the University of Wisconsin before becoming a professor of psychology at Hopkins in 1967. A book he co-wrote with Donald Campbell on educational research is well-known in the field.

His work with gifted children began in 1969, when he met 13-year-old Joseph Bates. Joseph, an eighth-grader, had completed all the math courses available at his Baltimore school.

When Joseph scored higher than the average high school senior on College Board tests, Dr. Stanley persuaded the dean at Hopkins to admit him. Dr. Stanley went on to experiment with testing methods and helped have several other gifted youths admitted to college.

Later, he became an advocate for other avenues to challenge gifted students, including summer programs, classes at community colleges and more advanced high school classes.

In 1979, Hopkins established the Center for Talented Youth based on Dr. Stanley's work. The center conducts a talent search, which encourages 80,000 youths each year to take the SATs and offers those with high scores learning opportunities and other resources.

About 10,000 pupils attend CTY's three-week intensive academic programs each summer at 23 college campuses.

The existence of such programs "speaks to the power of one idea and one person," said Lea Ybarra, CTY's executive director.

Recently, similar programs have been started in Spain, Ireland and Thailand with help from Dr. Stanley.

Within CTY, Dr. Stanley directed the Study of Exceptional Talent, which offered the highest achievers individual counseling and mentoring and collected data on their experiences.

His work with gifted children "was the love of his life," said his wife, Dorothy Stanley. "It was his passion."

Dr. Stanley married the former Dorothy Fahey in 2002 after they met at Vantage House Retirement Community in Columbia, where they lived.

Dr. Stanley received the Mensa Education & Research Foundation's first Lifetime Achievement award. He wrote and edited 19 books and hundreds of articles for professional journals.

He served as president of the American Educational Research Association, the National Council on Measurement in Education and two divisions of the American Psychological Association.

Dr. Stanley retired from his professorship in 1999 but remained involved with CTY, particularly the Study of Exceptional Talent, up to his death.

"He was wonderful to have there because he was very sharp," said Ms. Ybarra. "He was willing to share his experiences and stories.

"He has left such a legacy for all of us and for children all over the country," she said.

A memorial service will be held Sept. 17 at Vantage House, 5400 Vantage Point Road, at a time to be determined.

In addition to his wife, Dr. Stanley is survived by a daughter, Susan Willhoft of Tacoma, Wash.; a sister, Lestina Webb of Fayetteville, Ga.; and a grandson. He is preceded in death by his first wife, Rose Sanders Stanley, and his second wife, Barbara Sprague Kerr Stanley.

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