(Photo by Caitlin Cunningham)

New leadership at Walsh Center for Thriving Children

Lynch School Professor Eric Dearing is the new executive director

Eric Dearing, a professor of applied developmental psychology in the Lynch School of Education and Human Development, has been named the executive director of the Mary E. Walsh Center for Thriving Children, announced Stanton E.F. Wortham, the Charles F. Donovan, S.J., Dean of the Lynch School. The appointment is effective immediately.

A member of the Counseling, Developmental & Educational Psychology Department, Dearing succeeds the namesake founder, who launched what was previously called the Center for Optimized Student Support in 2001. Through an anonymous $10 million gift, the center was renamed the Mary E. Walsh Center for Thriving Children (CTC) in February 2022 to honor her.  Walsh, who retired from teaching in 2022, will serve as a CTC senior fellow and continue to lead the Lynch School’s City Connects, an international, comprehensive student support program.

Additionally, Wortham announced that Claire Foley will continue as CTC associate director.

“Mary Walsh did extraordinary work in launching City Connects and founding the center that now bears her name,” said Wortham.  “We are thrilled that Eric Dearing will now assume the leadership of the center. He has exactly the right combination of research acumen, vision, commitment, and networking skills. Eric, Claire, and Mary make an outstanding leadership team, and they have already developed a compelling vision for achieving even greater impact through the center’s work.”

Dearing, a Lynch School faculty member since 2006, is an expert in the links between students’ lives outside of school and their classroom performance. His research emphasizes the power of families, early education and care, and neighborhood supports to bolster achievement for children raised in poverty. Much of his recent work centers on promoting high-quality parent and early educator engagement to improve math learning for children from low-income families.  

Dearing earned a doctorate in psychology from the University of New Hampshire, served as a post-doctoral fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and as an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Wyoming, as well as a senior researcher/visiting professor at the University of Oslo. He is a member of the Development and Research in Early Math Education network, and was named a Foundation for Child Development Young Scholar awardee, and a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow.