Campus remembers advocate for early childhood education

Mary Jane Strattner-Gregory, associate professor emerita in the University of Delaware’s Department of Individual and Family Studies (now Human Development and Family Studies) passed away on Feb. 26, 2017. She was 94.
Upon joining UD in 1963, Dr. Strattner-Gregory’s work focused on early childhood development with attention to children’s socialization experiences. She taught both undergraduate and graduate students and advised graduate research.

She was active in promoting quality early childhood education in Delaware and was on boards and committees in the state including improving child care, church committees and hospice.

Students today benefit from the Strattner-Gregory Child Advocacy Graduate Award she funded to promote advocacy for children. Personally, as well as financially invested in the award, she would meet with recipients to discuss their work and plans. Recent winners include:

  • 2016 Garnett Booker
  • 2014 Juana Gaviria-Loaiza
  • 2013 Neda Moinolmolki
  • 2012 Alison Seefeldt
  • 2011 Kelley Perkins
  • 2010 Kelly Ann Cheeseman

Barbara Settles, professor of human development and family studies (HDFS) and long-time friend and colleague, reflected, “Mary Jane was active in improving daycare and nursery school programs and providing a scholarly support for innovation. In many ways her professional and personal commitment to young children provided our department with a lasting legacy.”

During a 2016 interview on the history of child development and early childhood education, Dr. Strattner-Gregory described both her own career and the development of the child development programs and the laboratory preschool. She stressed the growth of interest that accompanied the development of Headstart in Delaware and the support for workshops and graduate students in child development. She noted that Camille Schiffman who headed the laboratory preschool at that time had shared with her a heavy schedule of outreach to the state.

Bahira Trask, HDFS chair, appreciated Dr. Strattner-Gregory’s dedication. “Dr. Strattner was a true advocate for children, before the field of child development became as publicly significant as it is today. Her steadfast support of our students encouraged them to overcome obstacles and advance the field.”

Dr. Strattner-Gregory graduated with her Ph.D. in child development and family relations from Cornell University in 1963. Before she became an academic, she held teaching positions in home economics (family and consumer science) and for a time was an airline stewardess. She and her husband of 34 years, Arthur J. Gregory, enjoyed traveling, and she was actively involved with her family and friends throughout her life.

At the time of her death, Dr. Strattner-Gregory was living at Cokesbury Village in Hockessin, Delaware.

Posted on UDaily.