With deep sadness we share that Dr. Edward F. Zigler died at his home on February 7. Dr. Zigler was Sterling Professor Emeritus in both the Yale School of Medicine Psychology Department and in the Child Study Center. Dr. Zigler was a valued member of both departments and served on the executive committee of the Child Study Center for many years.
As described in his Yale obituary, Dr. Zigler was a prolific bridge builder between science and policy, having served as an advisor to presidents and senior-cabinet members from every U.S. administration from President Johnson to President Obama. His accomplishments are immense in both public service and academia, a member of the National Academy of Medicine with over 800 scholarly articles and 43 books and monographs. He, however, is probably best known as “The Father of Head Start” — a program that has provided health, education, and nutritional services to over 35 million children in every U.S. state and territory. After serving in the Nixon Administration as the first director of the U.S. Office of Child Development and as Chief of the U.S. Children’s Bureau, Dr. Zigler returned to academia and developed in 1978 a center at Yale dedicated to translating science into effective child and family policy. In 2005, the center was renamed in his honor the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy and became a component of the Yale Child Study Center.
Dr. Zigler firmly believed that science should be given away freely and for the betterment of the human condition. His work was guided by a deep sense of social justice and an abiding conviction that institutions of higher education have a profound responsibility to be both bastions of learning and potent agents of social improvement. His many positive impacts on children and families, the fields of science and policy, and his colleagues have been immense, and he will be missed sorely. Final arrangements were private. Events to honor his life and legacy are being planned for the spring both at Yale and in Washington DC, and further information will be disseminated.