October 9, 2023
After 16 years leading the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC), Charles (Chuck) Perfetti has shared with me his decision to step down from his role as its director in August 2024. Over the years, he has worked effectively to build LRDC’s strengths in the learning sciences, notably growing neuroscience and child development research areas, while also increasing the LRDC’s research connections within the educational mission of the University.
Chuck’s distinguished career at the University of Pittsburgh—which reaches back to his arrival as an Assistant Professor of Psychology in 1967 and his appointment as Research Scientist-Senior Scientist in the LRDC that same year—is directly tied to the growth and innovations of the LRDC. In fact, he was recruited to the University by LRDC’s founding director, Robert Glaser, just four years after its launch. Since then, Chuck has been responsible for many of the projects, programs, and developments that have pointed the field in new research directions and made the LRDC a home for researchers studying the complex problems of learning and education.
Named Professor of Psychology and Professor of Psychology and Linguistics, Chuck also served as chair for the Program in Learning, Development and Cognition; Graduate Program in Cognitive Psychology; and Department of Psychology, as well as interim chair for the Department of Linguistics. He became Associate Director of the LRDC in 2000 and took over as the third director of the center in 2008. In 2001, he was named a Distinguished University Professor of Psychology.
Chuck’s own work as a reading scientist explores the cognitive science of reading and language processes, the human ability to obtain meaning from language, and, through international collaborations, universal and language-specific aspects of reading. His work on the relationship between word recognition and comprehension is considered to form the bedrock of modern thought about reading. He has been affiliated with the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center, for which he has been co-director, since 2008. As well, he has been a Leverhulme Visiting Research Fellow at University of Sussex; on faculty with the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition; an Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of Auckland; a Fellow of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies; and a Visiting Scholar at the Max Planck Institut fur Psycholinguistik.
He has held active professional and research-related appointments with the Behavioral Science Institute, National Academy of Sciences, American Psychological Society, National Science Foundation, and Joint Laboratories for Language and Cognitive Neuroscience, among others.
Chuck is a longtime member of the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading, for which he also served as president. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association; the American Psychological Society; Member, the Psychonomic Society; the American Educational Research Association; the Linguistic Society of America; and the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading.
Having been widely published himself, Chuck has lent his expertise to several editorial boards, such as the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, Discourse; Processes, Journal of Memory and Language, Written Language and Literacy; Child Development, Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Reading; and Research Quarterly, Journal of Educational Psychology.
During his career, Chuck’s outstanding work has also been recognized with the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from both the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading and the Society for Text and Discourse. He also received the University of Pittsburgh Chancellor's Distinguished Research Award and, most recently, the 2022 Provost’s Award for Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring for outstanding mentoring of graduate students seeking a research doctoral degree.
Chuck’s contributions to the science of learning—and to the University community—are far-reaching, and the LRDC and the next generations of learning and educational scientists will continue to benefit from the solid foundation he has built. His efforts have been instrumental in making the LRDC one of the world's leading centers for research on learning and education.
Please join me in thanking Chuck for his meaningful and inspiring leadership. A search committee will be formed in the time ahead to identify his successor.
Joseph J. McCarthy
Interim Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor
William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Chemical Engineering
University of Pittsburgh