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June 26, 2008

Perfetti to head LRDC

Charles Perfetti, University Professor of Psychology and professor of linguistics, has been named director of the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC).

Pitt Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor James V. Maher announced the appointment last week.

LRDC is an academic center that supports scientific research on instruction and learning and the improvement of instruction and learning in schools, universities and workplaces. Since its founding in 1963, the center has fostered school reform through professional development for educators and scholars from several disciplines.

Perfetti has served as associate director of LRDC since 2000 and has been a senior scientist at the center since he joined the University in 1967.

Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg said, “Dr. Perfetti will provide strong academic leadership to the LRDC, which already is recognized as one of the world’s leading centers for basic and applied research on teaching and learning. He is keenly aware that team-building, cross-disciplinary cooperation, astute faculty hiring and the continued attraction of research grant funding all will be important elements of the LRDC’s future progress.”

Maher added, “Our current and crucial national discussions about the best education of children are far more likely to lead to real progress if they are informed by further advances in the science of human learning of the sort for which our Learning Research and Development Center is famous. I am confident that Professor Perfetti is just the right person to lead the center in the pursuit of such advances.”

During Perfetti’s career at Pitt, he also has served as chair of the PhD program in cognitive psychology, chair of the Department of Psychology and interim chair of the Department of Linguistics. He is a faculty member in the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition and serves as chief scientist of the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center.

Perfetti’s central research interest is in the cognitive science of language and reading processes, including the nature of reading ability, the role of word recognition in comprehension and the influence of writing systems in reading.

Perfetti is the author, co-author or co-editor of seven books, among them “Higher Level Language Processes in the Brain: Inference and Comprehension Processes,” “Text-based Learning and Reasoning: Studies in History” and “Reading Ability.” He also has written more than 150 professional journal articles and serves or has served on the editorial boards of a number of major peer-reviewed journals.

He is chair of the Commission on Reading Research for the National Institute for Literacy and received the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading.

Perfetti earned his PhD in experimental psychology at the University of Michigan and his BS in psychology at the University of Illinois.

Perfetti succeeds Lauren Resnick, University Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science and LRDC director since 1977. Resnick announced last July that she was stepping down as director this summer. She will focus on her research and continue as director of the Institute for Learning, which is housed in LRDC.

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