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Alum Awarded MacArthur Fellowship

Deborah Bial, Ed.M’97, Ed.D’04, was named a MacArthur Fellow this week. The prestigious award, which honors recipients for their past work and anticipates their future successes, includes a $500,000 unrestricted grant to support recipients’ future endeavors.

Bial, an education strategist, addresses the challenges of college access for underrepresented populations by identifying and fostering latent talent and opening opportunities for them to pursue higher education. She is the founder of the Posse Foundation, an organization that trains multicultural student leaders from public high schools for enrollment in top-tier universities.

“I’m thrilled by this recognition of Debbie’s work, but it’s also no surprise. In her classrooms here at HGSE, as in the offices of presidents whom she’s persuaded to join the Posse program, Debbie’s creative ideas, prodigious energy, and deep convictions have been captivating,” said Professor Judy McLaughlin. “She’s a very special person — but she’s also emblematic of so many of our students in her passionate commitment to improving the lives of others.”

Each year the MacArthur foundation selects recipients from invited nominators based on their creativity, originality, and potential for important contributions in the future. The 24 recipients this year were selected by an independent committee composed of a dozen leaders in the arts, sciences, humanities professions, and for-profit and nonprofit communities.

“The MacArthur Foundation supports highly creative individuals and institutions with the ability and the promise to make a difference in shaping and improving our future,” said MacArthur President Jonathan Fanton. “These new MacArthur Fellows, extraordinary men and women of all ages and in many fields, honor and inspire us with their talent, their courage, and their deep commitment. With the gift of time and unfettered opportunity to create and explore, we are confident that the Fellows will follow their hearts and their minds wherever they lead, making new discoveries and making a difference in the world.”

The fellowships offer the opportunity for recipients to accelerate their current activities or take their work in new directions. According to the MacArthur Foundation, the unusual level of independence afforded to fellows underscores the spirit of freedom intrinsic to creative endeavors. The extraordinary creativity of MacArthur Fellows knows neither boundaries nor the constraints of age, place, and endeavor.

A profile on Bial and her work will be found in the upcoming Winter 2008 issue of Ed. magazine.