In Memory of Jere Brophy

October 20, 2009

Jere Brophy

It is with great sadness that I write with the news that our dear colleague, Jere Brophy, died Thursday, October 15, 2009 at his home in Okemos from an apparent heart attack. There are no words to express the loss of this intellectual giant to the field of education, but more importantly, we have lost an esteemed colleague, a cherished friend, and generous mentor. Jere’s warmth of character was apparent in all his interactions. He always had an inviting smile, was known for his laid-back manner, and greatly enjoyed a good chuckle. He had a genuine interest in other people, their families, lives, work and ideas. To the world, Jere was an internationally-renown scholar whose writing informed researchers, policy-makers, and practitioners alike. To us, he was all that, but, in addition, we had the privilege of having him as our beloved colleague.

Jere came to Michigan State University in 1976 after receiving his PhD in clinical psychology and human development from the University of Chicago and serving on the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin. He came to MSU as a Professor and Senior Researcher in the Institute for Research on Teaching (IRT). From 1981 to 1994, he served as Co-Director of the IRT and, in that capacity, convened scholars to share their works-in-progress through the “Invisible College” prior to the annual meetings of the American Educational Research Association.

At MSU, Jere held the position of University Distinguished Professor, which is the highest faculty distinction in the university. Jere’s honors and awards are among the most prized in the fields of education and psychology. He received the 2007 E. L. Thorndike Award from Division 15 of the American Psychological Association. This award, signifying a career of distinguished contributions to knowledge, theory and practice in educational psychology, was very special to Jere because, as he said, “The recognition comes from one’s peers.” He was elected as Fellow in the American Psychological Association, the International Academy of Education, the American Psychological Society, and the American Educational Research Association. He was elected to the National Academy of Education and was recognized with an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Liege, Belgium, in 2004. He served on editorial boards for many of the most prestigious journals in the field of education. Jere was a prolific author having written over 300 articles, chapters and books. Jere Brophy’s work was as well known to practitioners as scholars. His research on effective teaching, classroom management, and student motivation influenced both theory and practice with lucid and incisive thought and writing. More recently, he applied these ideas to the construction of social studies curriculum and received the Award for Exemplary Research in Social Studies from the National Council on Social Studies. It is hard to imagine an undergraduate or graduate student in education or psychology who has not encountered the work of Jere Brophy.

Jere is survived by wife Arlene, of 46 years; daughter, Cheri (Mark) Speier of Okemos; son, Joe (Missy) Brophy of Rockford, MI; 4 grandchildren, Mark and Chris Speier and Jered and Carmen Brophy; brother Tom Brophy of Villa Park, IL and sister, Kathy Brophy of Lombard, IL.

Jere Brophy will be fondly remembered for his great works. His good will and good cheer will be cherished in our memories. His unexpected departure when still in the prime of his life and work is especially difficult for his colleagues and friends. We will miss him greatly but will learn to smile when we share “Jere stories.”

Carole Ames


College of Education

Michigan State University

East Lansing, MI 48824