Neag alumna sets up planned gift for literacy research

Grace Merritt

2 min read

Dr. Julie M. Wood ’71 (ED), ’72 MA is grateful for the safe haven that UConn gave her during the turbulent 1970s, and she recently began thinking about how she could give back.

Dr. Wood (’99 Ph.D. Harvard), a renowned educational consultant, decided to leave a planned gift to UConn to support research in an area close to her heart: children’s literacy. She has set up an endowment that will generate funding every year for a faculty member in the Neag School of Education to conduct research in effective practices to support children’s literacy development.

Wood has devoted her life to developing literacy in young children. An international consultant, she worked with publishers to develop textbooks, curricula, and technology programs to help all children succeed, especially those in underserved communities.

She was pleased when UConn President Tom Katsouleas announced that his goal was to double research efforts at UConn. She hopes her gift will help bring even greater respect and visibility to the Neag School.

She said the UConn Foundation staff worked closely with her to create a planned gift that would feel right for her. It was easy to set it up and satisfying to leave everything in place and to think about it for the future, she said.

“The older I got, the more I thought in terms of a legacy and really leaving something to the next generation,” she said. “For me, I can’t think of a better cause because I do believe so strongly in education and believe in Neag Dean Gladis Kersaint.”

When Wood attended UConn in the early ’70s, she and other students were facing down a recession, the Vietnam War, and turbulent social unrest.

“I felt that UConn had just saved me,” she said. “It was my intellectual base, my haven, during a very stressful time in our nation—with many parallels to today,” she said. “I found the faculty very inspiring and supportive.”

After graduating and earning a master’s degree from UConn, Wood worked for 11 years as a literacy specialist and fourth-grade teacher in Amherst, N.H. Then she became involved in educational publishing and, eventually, media development, creating videos for children.

She also taught as an adjunct professor at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, where she earned a master’s degree in education in 1992 and a doctorate in 1999. She now consults from her home office in Cambridge, Mass., where she lives with her husband, John, a retired scientist.

Learn more about planned giving

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