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Community focus puts outgoing education dean in the national spotlight

Raymond Lorion, Ph.D. Dean, College of Education

Raymond Lorion, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Education

As he was preparing to end one phase of his career at Towson University on Tuesday, June 30, outgoing Dean of the College of Education Raymond Lorion won major recognition from a national organization that has nothing to do with teaching. But in the big picture, it’s not as surprising a link as it may seem.

The Society for Community Research and Action (SCRA) last weekend honored Lorion with its award for distinguished contribution to theory and research in community psychology.

“Much of my field-based research focused on early detection of disorders in children and youth,” said Lorion, whose doctorate is in clinical psychology. “Inevitably, that work required working with children in natural settings and understanding their experiences in their homes, their neighborhoods and their schools.”

Lorion spent the first 30 years of his professional life on this research, which led to the development of the Center for Application and Innovation Research in Education. CAIRE works with the Maryland Department of Education in evaluating the effectiveness of the federal government’s Race to the Top program in the state.

Lorion’s role in creating CAIRE is part of the reason for the award, and CAIRE is where he will focus his energy now that his years of service as dean have ended.

“Dr. Lorion’s leadership in the College of Education has been built on his desire to understand and ensure the success of at-risk students,” said Interim President Timothy J. L. Chandler. “As he departs his dean’s position and focuses on a new role with Towson University, we know his work with CAIRE will continue that long-held passion for the critical connection between young people, communities and education.”

The SCRA award goes to individuals whose high-quality, innovative research leads to important new ideas with enduring influence. Lorion’s work on early detection of disorders includes an understanding of potential warning signs, like teenage pregnancy, academic failure, exposure to or participation in violence, and other indicators. He focused on intervention as a means to reduce the number of people who need psychological care. That’s what led him to education.

“The simple fact,” he explained, “is that one of the major preventative interventions is to enable children to succeed academically.”

While Lorion’s work can help identify young people who are struggling, he has also applied it to his administrative position in higher education, leading a college from which a quarter of all Maryland’s teachers have graduated.

“As dean,” he noted, “I hoped to understand how teachers were prepared, whether that preparation might include helping them understand opportunities to recognize children at risk, and strategies for reducing those risks.”

Lorion received his award from the SCRA during its biannual conference on June 27.

Laurie Mullen, Ph.D. will become the next dean of TU’s College of Education effective July 8.

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