A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Emma Eccles Jones Early Childhood Education and Research Center at Utah State University will be held on the lawn north of the Emma Eccles Jones Education Building Tuesday, Sept. 14, beginning at 1:30 p.m. The center, which will be home to progressive programs and research in early childhood education, will focus on improving educational opportunities of young children. This facility was made possible by a $25 million gift from the Emma Eccles Jones Foundation and an additional $1 million gift from the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation. The Emma Eccles Jones Early Childhood Education and Research Center and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for Early Care and Education will offer early childhood educational opportunities for students, as well as applicable experience and research for USU undergraduate and graduate students. “The center will be home to some of the college’s finest scholars and early childhood programs,” said Beth E. Foley, interim dean of the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services. “The building’s unique design and common spaces will provide our world-class faculty unprecedented opportunities for interdisciplinary research and collaboration.” Foley said that students in many fields will feel the impact of the new facilities. “Through their involvement in interdisciplinary educational, research and service experiences, USU students will receive the highest level of professional preparation for careers in early childhood education, speech-language pathology, audiology, deaf education and other human service disciplines,” she said. Speakers at the ribbon cutting include The Very Reverend Frederick Q. Lawson, trustee for the Emma Eccles Jones Foundation, Spencer Eccles, chairman of the board and CEO for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, and USU President Stan L. Albrecht. The dedication program will include a musical number from the Edith Bowen Honor Choir, an unveiling and presentation of portraits of Emma Eccles Jones and Dolores Doré Eccles, the ribbon cutting and guided building tours of the new facility. The public is invited.The building will house several of the college’s research endeavors and primary programs in early childhood education, including the Emma Eccles Jones Center for Early Childhood Education and its distinguished professor of early childhood education, Ray Reutzel. Reutzel said the new facility will serve as a hub for many programs. “It will provide a comprehensive set of innovative early childhood programs and resources that reflect the most current educational research and proven practices to serve young children, their families, parents and educators in the state of Utah,” Reutzel said. Under the same roof, the Dolores Doré Eccles Center for Early Care and Education will provide much-needed early care and education facilities for infants and young children whose parents are USU students, staff or faculty. This facility will offer early childhood education, student and parent training, a model research environment and numerous opportunities for USU undergraduate and graduate students to observe, tutor, and experience hands-on learning internships. The $25 million gift also funded five endowed professorships in early childhood education. Foley said this gift will have a lasting impact on people and programs in the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services. The endowed chair positions will help ensure that the college remains competitive in attracting dedicated and creative faculty. The new facility provides much-needed space and state-of-the-art technology. Three college programs will be directly impacted: the Emma Eccles Jones Center for Early Childhood Education, the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management/Sound Beginnings Preschool, and the Language and Literacy Laboratory. In addition, the gift of $1 million from the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation will significantly support space for the USU Children’s House (now known as the Dolores Doré Eccles Center for Early Care and Education). PROGRAMS EEJ Center for Early Childhood Education: The new facility will house the EEJ Center for Early Childhood Education and research space for each of the endowed professors in early childhood education. Housing these scholars in a single facility will increase the level of interchange among them, creating synergy for work of national significance in early childhood education. “The new building will elevate the dreams, ambitions, and abilities of faculty, students and parents to make the fleeting years of early childhood as memorable and precious as Emma Eccles Jones did during her service as a kindergarten teacher in the old Whittier School,” said Reutzel, the center’s Distinguished Professor and director. Language and Literacy Laboratory: The new building will provide essential research space for a language and literacy research facility. The faculty will study language development assessment, including literate language intervention in children who are at-risk for language impairments; cross-cultural differences in language use in school-age children; use of words and sounds among children with and without disabilities as they learn how to read and spell; the contribution of memory, attention and perception to language comprehension and use; the education of children with severe disabilities through the use of augmentative and alternative communication devices; and the measurement of speech fluency in children who stutter. “This is tangible recognition from the Emma Eccles Jones Foundation that demonstrates their perception that early childhood research at USU is important and vital,” said Ron Gillam, the Ray L. and Eloise Hoopes Lillywhite Endowed Chair in Speech-Language Pathology. “This gift provides the research infrastructure that will ensure that research thrives in the future.” NCHAM and Sound Beginnings: NCHAM is responsible, in large part, for the advances in newborn hearing screening around the world. NCHAM staff assist Early Hearing Detection and Intervention programs to ensure that all infants are screened for hearing loss at birth, and that infants who are referred from screening receive timely and appropriate diagnostic and intervention services. NCHAM staff also conduct research, develops training materials, provide training and technical assistance, and disseminates information about early identification and management of hearing loss. NCHAM and Sound Beginnings Preschool staff collaborate so children with cochlear implants or digital hearing aids learn through and communicate with spoken language. The new building will allow the expansion of the preservice program. It will provide a range of field-based experiences for graduate students and allow faculty to grow their research programs and be competitive in obtaining external grant funds. Dolores Doré Eccles Center for Early Care and Education: The new center will showcase state-of-the-art early childhood education, student and parent training, research and USU’s land-grant mission. University students will have opportunities for observation, tutoring and internships in a model facility for early care and education — one that also offers USU faculty a venue for research, parent training and land-grant outreach. Children up to 6 years of age will be served. Parents of children served by the facility — as well as parents in surrounding communities — will have access to parent training workshops and a lending library. Childcare providers in northern Utah and southern Idaho will have access to professional development workshops provided by faculty and staff of the facility.
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