Meece named second McMichael Professor

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Judith Meece, professor of educational psychology, has been named to the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Education’s McMichael Term Professorship, becoming the second faculty member to hold the professorship.

The McMichael Professorship is intended to recognize and support the teaching and research of a deserving member of the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education. The recipient receives a stipend during each year he or she holds the professorship. The professorship carries a two-year term.

“Judith Meece is a nationally recognized scholar in the field of achievement motivation and a leader in the field of educational psychology,” said Dean Bill McDiarmid. “She has been a devoted mentor to many students who have gone on to accomplished careers. The School of Education is fortunate to be able to recognize her contributions with this professorship.”

The McMichael Term Professorship is funded by an endowment established by the McMichael Family Foundation, which was created from the trust of Rockingham County businessman Dalton L. McMichael, Sr. McMichael, who died in 2001, had a 60-year career as a textile industry entrepreneur and was a longtime supporter of education, including service on the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees. Since his death, the foundation has been run by McMichael’s children.

“The School of Education is grateful for the McMichael family’s generosity, which makes this professorship possible,” said Wendy Gratz Borman, assistant dean of external relations for the School.

The professorship was the result of the vision of Louise “Lou” Miracle, daughter of McMichael, Borman said. Miracle, who died in 2008, was a 1972 graduate of the School of Education’s elementary education program.

Meece’s research focuses on the role of classroom and school environments in the development of adolescents’ academic motivation and educational aspirations. She recently led a large national study on the postsecondary transition of rural youth to careers, college and adult life. Her work has been supported by grants from the Institute of Education Sciences, National Science Foundation and the Spencer Foundation.

Meece is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association’s Division 15, which she served as president in 2012. She has worked at the School of Education since 1985.

Karyl Askew, who was one of Meece’s doctoral student advisees and now works as a program evaluation consultant, cited a Chinese proverb that says learning is a treasure that follows owner everywhere.

“Dr. Meece has bestowed on me a treasure by teaching me what it means to the individual and to the broader community to increase the representation of women in the sciences,” Askew said. “This treasure is one that I will enrich my life, my daughter's life, and the lives of those I come in contact with in my professional career as a social scientist. My life has truly been enriched from her mentoring.”