Remembering Carol Connor

We are saddened to announce that Carol Connor our President Elect passed away the morning of May 14, 2020 at her home in California, surrounded by the love of her husband and close family. 

We have been privileged to work with such a dedicated and passionate member of SSSR. Through her service as both Treasurer, Vice President, and President Elect, Carol demonstrated her care for our society and its members. Just this week Carol was helping to resolve the varied and complex issues around the (now rescheduled) annual international conference in California: She was determined that our society should recover and thrive, despite the current challenges.

As one of our leading scholars, Carol’s work has had a significant impact on our field and made a positive difference to the literacy outcomes of countless children. As a friend, colleague, and mentor, Carol has enhanced the lives and careers of the current and next generation of education scientists.

We are only beginning to count the ways that we shall miss her.

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I didn't know Carol well, but when I think of her, I think of her smile and her straight forward approach to everything.

I didn't know Carol well, but when I think of her, I think of her smile and her straight forward approach to everything.

Whenever I saw Carol at SSSR she was laughing and smiling with friends. She seemed to bring a little California sunshine with her where ever she went. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family and students.

RIP, Carol, a caring colleague and a champion for SSSR.

Carol is one of those individuals who appreciated the researcher as much as the research. This is to say that she was interested in making the researcher better along with improving the science. Her warm smile, kind demeanor, and quick wit made her stand out. Although I was always amazed by her thinking and research skills, I was duly impressed by the manner in which she provided feedback and served as a mentor to more junior faculty. She shared clear and insightful feedback in a manner that made one want to improve. I remember this specifically when she served as a discussant for my session at SSSR Hong Kong. I was nervous about this session as we had only recently finished running some complex models and we were still struggling with the “story” behind the statistics. Carol could have gone in many directions with her feedback and been quite critical in the process. However, she chose that moment to throw us a lifeline as she pointed to an important narrative in our data that we hadn’t seen yet. This moment left an impression on my professionally and personally, and it reflects her magnanimous nature. Our field has a lost an incredible scientist and a lovely, bright light. I hope that her memory can be shared frequently and often as we strive to not only be better scholars but better people as well. Rest in Peace Dear Carol.

Excellent, detailed research combined with a warmth and interest in others - that is how I remember Carol

I will remember Carol for her sharp insights, her sense of adventure, and her support for her students and junior scholars. I have attached a photograph of her and Jay from their trip to Norway a couple of years ago. She had a pretty grueling schedule on campus and was still available to students during our breaks and at our group dinners. Next thing you know, she is on the train to Bergen, hiking fjords and exploring. I was so honored to co-supervise students with her and collaborate with her. She has left a huge hole in the lives of all who knew her and will be greatly missed. She was truly a rare spirit.

I came to know Carol best by working with her on the Board, in her roles as treasurer and vice president. She was a dedicated, hardworking member of our Society, generously giving her time, energy, and wisdom. I learned much from working with her, and so appreciated her warmth and collegiality. This photo from our Porto meeting shows a smiling Carol among friends. May her memory be a blessing for her family, friends, students and colleagues.

I didn't have the opportunity to work with Carol. But in 2008 when I was exploring Florida State as a graduate school option, she kindly spent time with me and took me on a tour of FCRR and some of the campus. She spent a fair amount of time with me that day and I will never forget that. As many have said, she was kind and interested in me and my development. I particularly appreciate Gary Bingham's story above. I believe his story captures her spirit well. Since we met that day in 2008 I would periodically reach out to Carol and she would always graciously respond. I was so excited when I learned she was coming to UC Irvine (my grad school alma mater) even though I had already graduated. She was a true leader in the world of research. I will miss her and I am so sad that I will not have the opportunity to collaborate with her, which was always my desire. Rest in Peace our dear Carol.

As a colleague at Arizona State University Carol was always welcoming, interested in the research you were conducting, and enthusiastic about collaborations. Clearly she was a fighter who made a big impact in her field. Condolences to her family and her lab family.

To call Carol a colleague would be a disservice to what she was to me. Carol was a brilliant scholar, a mentor, but most of all, a friend. She will be sorely missed, and I do believe the world is a little dimmer without her smile. I will strive to carry on her legacy in not only the important work that she was doing with the goal of achieving literacy among all children, but also in mentoring and guiding students and junior faculty.

Pictured below are my two moms, Jay, me, and Carol at their home on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. She treated my family as her own and I will miss her dearly.

Carol encouraged me to stay the course when I felt discouraged about the state of our education system. Her dedication and persistence to solve the really wicked problems were admirable. She was a positive influence to all and I'm grateful to have known her. She will be missed.

I didn't know Carol particularly well, but like many, always appreciated her work. I was fortunate to get to know Carol a little as I considered her as a post-doc mentor, and although, that didn't end up working out (she was moving to California that year), I truly appreciate the time that she spent to get to know me.

I knew Carol from the numerous works I cited for my writing assignments in graduate school. Her works are critical yet very easy to follow and understand. At the time, I said to myself, oh, i wish i could write like her. I always wanted to say "hi" to her. In last SSSR conference, I bumped into her in hotel elevator. She was such a personal person. Although it was just a three minutes conversation, she told me how happy she could see junior researchers and scholars in conference, and the association is growing. I can still remember her smiling face. When my colleague told me, she was actually pretty sick during the last conference, I was totally shocked. She looked so energetic. I guess this also illustrates her real passion to the field of literacy studies and child development. Her works and her passion will always inspire me and many other junior scholars and researchers in our future endeavors.

I only met Carol in the last two years through her work on A2i, and I felt like I was immediately an important part of her life. She was so warm and open-hearted. I was always amazed at the time she had for me with everything that I knew she was doing. I heard the same from others over the past two years and see this thread through all of these remembrances of her -- we all felt she had all of the time in the world for us. I will miss her dearly.

I first met Carol in 2014 when we served together on a committee to advise the National Center for Education Statistics on future waves of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study - Kindergarten Cohort. What a bright, lively, kind, and fun person! And then I looked up her cv and saw that she was one of the leading reading researchers in the world. And she wasn't just writing articles -- she was inventing reading interventions that used technology to personalize instruction. With her husband Jay, Carol was implementing and testing this technology in multiple large experiments around the country. Along with many awards, Carol also had something few educational researchers ever get -- a patent! I told people at UCI that we just had to hire her. We were able to do so, and to hire a multidisciplinary team of additional faculty to work with her because UCI agreed to fund the research and action center, Creating Opportunity for Children Living in Poverty through Effective Educational Interventions, with Carol as Director. During her five years here Carol was incredibly active -- leading the center, pursuing research, teaching courses, mentoring students and postdocs, serving on faculty committees. This year she was the President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading, and had been arranging their annual meeting, scheduled before the virus, for Newport Beach. Many many of us, nationwide, will sorely miss Carol's bright expertise, energy, kindness, and leadership. She lit up the room.

I first got to know Carol when she asked me for advice related to her dissertation work in which she was exploring the effects of classroom language on young children's learning. She built on her dissertation in an extremely effective manner, developing a potent line of research that provided classroom teachers strategies for more effectively interacting with children. I was always impressed by her productivity and the way her work drew on theory, used sophisticated research methods, and addressed practical instructional problems. I will miss her scholarly accomplishments and my conversations with her at conferences.

David Dickinson

Carol’s decease truly leaves a void I many peoples’ lives. My heart goes out to her family who have suffered a tremendous loss.

The summer of 2016 I was going to UCI School of education as a visiting researcher and to collaborate with a colleague there. However, right upon my arrival in the US, my colleague had to go away. He sent out an e-mail to his colleagues to ask whether anyone would be interested in meeting me. Carol, who had recently moved to Irvine, immediately responded. She arranged a meeting with me, and later invited me and my family for dinner. I knew Carol’s work well, but now I also got to know the very generous, engaged, and warm person that she was. Carol introduced me to Deborah Vandell, and they have both been a true inspiration and support ever since. All because Carol responded to one e-mail. I had hoped that we would be able to connect with some of Carol’s Norwegian relatives the next time she and Jay came to Oslo. I had also looked forward to meeting Carol at this year’s SSSR and learn more about her fantastic work with OLOS, get an update on her deeply cherished children and grandchildren, and share a glass of wine.

Carol’s ideas and contributions to the field will live on and continue to inspire me and other researchers, but I will miss her a lot!

I will miss her vivaciousness, prolificness, depth of knowledge, rigor, and passion. The whole educational research community has lost a giant among giants. I can't believe she is gone...

I was just starting to get to know Carol in late 2019. Anne Castles and I were liaising with Carol on the SSSR conference for 2021 in Australia. We knew immediately that Carol was someone and something special. The world is a lesser place without her. The reading researchers in Oz send her family our deepest condolences.

Carol,
her eyes and smile reflected the bright light of intelligence and enthusiasm.

Among the papers of hers that I read, I appreciated the intricate analyses she conducted to uncover the role of teachers in children's learning to read.

I met Carol about 10 years ago at SSSR, and we participated in several symposia focusing on technology and literacy. It was always great to see her big smile, good spirit and great mind. Carols' impressive work and her personality encouraged Dorit Aram and I as the chairs of the "The Israeli Literacy and Language Association" to invite her to give the keynote talk in our conference in Tel-Aviv. Beyond her excellent talk, we had a grate unforgettable trip together with Jay in the country. Few years later I visited her and Jay in Arizona, and we had wonderful time together. Carol symbolized for me high professionality, excellent research, generosity, and inside and outside beauty.
I believe that her contributions to the research world of reading will inspire many researchers and educators in the world. I feel very sad for her loss. My heart is with Jay and all the family.

Carol and I have worked together for quite some time through her role as treasurer and more recently as President elect of our society. Her dedication and energy were always clear. Her charm, clarity, and intelligence something that affected all who worked with her. Carol's determination that we support the society through and beyond the pandemic was evident literally to her last day. We must remember and build on her work, her energy, and her commitment as we repair as a learned society in the months to come. I will do all I can to make this happen.

I associate Carol most closely with SSSR, where we met at the conference and later worked together on the Board: She was fun, she was sharp, and she got things done! However, my fondest and most personal memories of Carol are from time spent together at other meetings, chatting about education science and life over lunch or dinner. I feel lucky to have shared that time with her. She will be missed by many, but her influence will endure.

I met Carol for the first time at the The Dyslexia Foundation meeting in South Africa in 2018. We were all holed up in a room together discussing dyslexia for the best part of a week, so we got to know each other pretty well! I was just so impressed with Carol. Learning more about her large and ambitious research program was fascinating, but what stuck with me even more was the positive and thoughtful way in which she engaged with all of the presentations. I could see what a wonderful colleague and mentor she would be. It is a great loss to SSSR and the field of reading research.

I met Carol during our conferences over the years and got to know her more personally in our collaboration in the SSSR board. I was impressed by her sharpness, personality and passion. Words cannot express my deep sadness about her passing away! It is such an incredible loss for her family, her friends, her colleagues and of course for our society. We will remember her with great respect and dignity.

Having known Carol's contributions for years from reading her papers and listening to her conference talks, I was lucky to have the opportunity to get to spend time with her at a meeting in South Africa a couple of years ago and my memories of her will be forever forged with that magical location. She was beautiful and generous in both spirit and scholarship - qualities that will live on through the lives she touched and the lasting legacy she leaves.

While I was always a reader of Carol's work, I finally got to meet her in person just this past February in D.C. During breaks from meetings, she and I sat together and I asked her for a little mentoring. She put down her work and chatted candidly and kindly with me. I was so grateful for her insights and generosity. While I didn't know her personally beyond this meeting, it's clear that our exchange was representative of her willingness to connect with and give to others. She was, and will remain, so very inspiring.

I have been lucky enough to know Carol since she got her PhD in 2002. She was a good friend and invaluable colleague. It is rare to find someone who you enjoy and are close to and who is an exceptional colleague. I will focus mostly on the latter but I will miss her friendship the most. She was an active collaborator on our research to improve language and literacy outcomes of deaf and hard-of-hearing children. Before she received her PhD., she had already had a long career as a speech pathologist, including a time working with DHH children who had cochlear implants. She decided to study literacy to improve outcomes of DHH children. Although her main line of work was focused on hearing children, she was an equal collaborator in our work on DHH children. Thanks to her vast knowledge of literacy, her creativity, and science, our interdisciplinary team created effective interventions for DHH preschoolers and early elementary school children. We could not have done it without her. With all that she had going on her life, she always had time to help write grant applications, and to meet with our research team three or four times a year. I always ended those meeting in awe of all the areas she could contribute.

During the last year and half with her struggle with cancer, she was a role model on how to stay optimistic. I was able to visit her several times and she kept a positive outlook, focusing on continuing her work but also spending quality time with her family and friends. Her treatment was successful for about a year and she felt grateful she felt well enough to be fully there for her husband, children, grandchildren and friends (as well as writing several grant applications of course).

I will end with some words that come to mind when I think of her:

Brilliant,
Generous with her time, knowledge, skills, and love,
Warm and loving,
Devoted to her family and friends,
Driven to do all she could do to improve children’s lives,
Inspirational to others to achieve more,
Superwoman.

She will be missed.

Carol was one of the most lovely, smart, and insightful colleagues I have ever known. I adored her, and I've never met anyone who knew her who didn't feel the same. She will be missed by so many people -- in ways that span personal to professional. The field has lost a treasure. The fact that her work will continue to have an impact on children's lives through the legacy she created (i.e., next generation of researchers she trained, methods she developed, etc) is a light amidst this tremendous loss.

I got to know Carol while we were both serving on the SSSR board. What struck me most was her willingness to jump in and do things. She did so gracefully and competently, both in her service to our society and her research. I am saddened by her loss.

Steve (Graham) and I went to dinner with Carol and her husband Jay soon after they moved to Arizona some years ago. As we were learning more about each other, Carol and I discovered that we had graduated in the same class from the same high school outside of Chicago. It was such a large class; we did not know each other, but we knew some of the same people. Shortly after we got together again, and Jay had found our HS yearbook and we had a lot of fun going through it. The four of us had wonderful dinners and times together, with Steve and Jay often providing a lot of fun for us all! After Carol and Jay moved to Irvine, we were fortunate to continue having great times together. Carol was a wonderful friend, scholar, mentor, and champion for children. Her research and the scaling up work she and Jay have done together will impact education for years to come.

I met Carol when I was working at FCRR and also working toward my doctorate degree at FSU. She was a fabulous colleague at FCRR and a wonderful mentor to me and many students throughout the years. I enjoyed keeping in touch with her through SSSR conferences and reading about her work. She always had a smile on her face. The reading world and the world in general lost a great one and way too soon. She will be missed!

Carol did a presentation as part of a series for the Center on Literacy and Deafness on her research. I thought SSSR members might want to use it in their classes. Although the title is "Individualizing Instruction for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students" she primarily focused on her research with hearing children and is, as always, stellar. It is available open access through our website. It does not appear if you search for it through google.

https://clad.education.gsu.edu/center-activities/webinar-language-litera...

The themes that emerge from all these lovely messages are so consistent: the field, and the world, have lost a sharp, scientific, kind, generous person. I remember my first SSR meeting as a board member, feeling young, foreign, and nervous as I joined the table with more senior colleagues. Carol immediately guessed who I was, introduced me, and made me feel not just welcome, but an equal and important part of the group. In the few encounters I had with Carol, her warmth and graciousness, as well as her stature as a researcher, were abundantly clear.
I am so sorry to hear of this great loss - to her family and friends, but also to so many colleagues, senior and junior, who must have gained so much from working with Carol Connor.

I bonded with Carol many years ago discussing our common roots as speech-language pathologists. Carol never forgot the children in her research and always considered the applications and real world impact her research. I hope that her family takes solace in the fact that she made a difference in people's lives.

Carol was passionate, sharp and generous; her loss will be felt deeply by the field. I got to know her through one of the TDF meetings (South Africa, 2018) and through our Florida LDRC. She was also one of my tenure letter writers, for which I am forever grateful. My clearest memories of her involve yoga with Ela Gandhi in Durban and hiking in Drakensberg -- she was fearless. As others have said, Carol was also an incredibly good human being -- you just felt better being around her. She will be sorely missed.

Carol was such a kind and generous human, a brilliant researcher, and a giant in the field of reading. I only had a few opportunities to work with Carol over the years, but I am grateful for each one. I have learned so much from her, and I'm sure many others will continue to learn from her for years to come.

I was honored to meet Carol while serving with her on the NIH LCOM grant review panel in 2017. I had been a longtime admirer (okay, fan) of her work and was just blown away by how kind, conscientious, and thoughtful she was during the review process. I saw a comment above here that indicated that she cared just as much about the researcher as she did the research - and that is exactly what I saw in her as a reviewer of prestigious and competitive NIH grants. I am so sad for her family and for our field that she is gone.

What would you like to say about Carol?

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