Michael Pressley Scholarship in Education

This scholarship honors the life and career of Dr. Michael Pressley whose legacy in the academic world is replete with evidence from his research, writing, mentorship of graduate and undergraduate students, contributions to state and national education policy, and service to the profession, specifically in the areas of literacy and educational psychology. Dr. Pressley was one of the most-cited scholars in the field of social science and education. He belonged to the distinguished few who were among the top one-half of the one percent cited in the research literature, and, he was the only MSU social science scholar with this distinction.

Dr. Pressley was well known for his work on balanced literacy instruction, reading strategies for comprehension and understanding texts. He was renowned for his senior authorship of the K-6 basal literacy program, Open Court, now McGraw-Hill/SRA Open Court, a series that has a direct impact on millions of children. It is not surprising that Dr. Pressley was honored with several prestigious career awards, including:

  • Induction into the Reading Hall of Fame
  • The Oscar Causey Award from the National Research Conference for outstanding contributions to reading research
  • The Sylvia Scribner Award from Division C of the American Education Research Association for outstanding contribution to research on learning
  • The Albert B. Harris Award from the International Reading Association for outstanding contribution to the diagnoses and remediation of children at risk for failure to learn to read or write
  • The E.L. Thorndike Award for Distinguished Psychological Contributions to Education from the American Psychological Association; the University Distinguished Professor Award from Michigan State University; and recognition in 2006 as one of the top 100 University of Minnesota Distinguished Alumni from the College of Education and Human Development

Since coming to Michigan State University in 2002, Dr. Pressley served the university and the State of Michigan in many significant capacities, including co-chairing Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s committee on English Language Arts Standards for Michigan. He received funding to establish the Literacy Achievement Research Center at MSU, directed the doctoral program in Teacher Education, Curriculum and Policy, and directed the doctoral research committees of many graduate students. During his career, Dr. Pressley published more than 350 articles and book chapters, and authored or edited over 25 books that have had a powerful influence on the field of literacy, psychology and education. Michael’s contributions to individuals, programs, universities, and the education profession are numerous. His intellect compassion, leadership and unselfishness in sharing this wisdom have strengthened the College of Education at Michigan State University. Dr. Pressley made a difference.

On May 23, 2006, the College of Education lost one of our most esteemed faculty members from complications due to cancer. He is fondly remembered by friends, colleagues, students and family including his loving wife Donna Forrest-Pressley and their son Tim Pressley.