Press Releases

Groundbreaking Endowed Chair in Social and Emotional Learning at University of Illinois-Chicago to Be Invested Thursday

18 October 2011
BY NoVo Foundation

For Immediate Release

The new NoVo Foundation Endowed Chair in Social and Emotional Learning to be invested at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) this Thursday, the first of its kind, represents an exciting strategic development in one of the most promising initiatives in education today.

Dr. Roger P. Weissberg, professor of psychology and education at UIC, will assume the chair with a lecture addressing recent efforts to establish the approach as an educational priority in Chicago and across the United States. Weissberg is president of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), a nonprofit organization, and heads the UIC SEL Research Group, an interdisciplinary team focused on addressing social and emotional learning research and assessment, practice, and policy development.

Based in the department of psychology, the chair will oversee ongoing research on social and emotional learning, a method of proactively developing children’s ability to identify, manage, and discuss their own emotions and to modify their behavior in pro-social ways. Students trained in these skills are better prepared to succeed in school and in subsequent careers than their untrained peers.

“Social and emotional learning is founded on scholarly research, and its success continues to be validated by a growing body of evidence,” said Weissberg, who is a UIC College of Liberal Arts and Sciences distinguished professor. Weissberg and UIC collaborators secure funding to provide research assistantships for graduate students to help advance the science of social and emotional learning.

Research demonstrates that social and emotional learning programs raise students’ standardized test scores by an average of 11 percentile points, while improving attitudes, behavior, and interpersonal communication, and decreasing problematic conduct, such as drug use, high-risk sexual interaction, and aggression.

The chair has been endowed by a $2 million grant from the NoVo Foundation, led by Jennifer and Peter Buffett. The NoVo foundation’s vision is “to foster a transformation in global society from a culture of domination and exploitation to one of collaboration and partnership”. The endowment represents the latest in a series of strategic advances in social and emotional learning supported by the Buffetts, who were named to Barron’s list of top 25 most effective philanthropists for their thoughtful, targeted, and involved method of advancing their chosen causes.

“NoVo’s endowment of the UIC chair is our signal to a broader academic community and to a growing community of effective practice that social and emotional learning has come of age,” said Jennifer Buffett, president of NoVo. “We now have evidence from over 20 years of first-rate social science that emotional development and cognitive development are inextricably linked. The advantages of integrating this more comprehensive understanding of teaching and learning are pronounced and undeniable.”

The title of the lecture Weissberg will give on Thursday, “Establishing Social and Emotional Learning as an Educational Priority Across Chicago, Illinois, and the United States,” hints at his success bringing social and emotional learning is states and cities around the country. In 2004, he was instrumental in making Illinois the first state to adopt K-12 student learning standards, and CASEL’s Collaborating District Initiative program, also supported by NoVo, is instituting social and emotional learning curricula across all grades in eight geographically diverse U.S. school districts.

Weissberg came to UIC in 1992, prior to which he served as a faculty member at Yale University. In 2008, The George Lucas Educational Foundation named Weissberg one of the “Daring Dozen” who are reshaping the future of education. He has also received the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Contribution Award for Applications of Psychology to Education and Training in 2000, the Society for Community Research and Action Distinguished Contribution to Theory and Research Award in 2004, and the Nan Tobler Award for the Best Review of Prevention Research from the Society for Prevention Research in 2010. He holds a doctorate in psychology from the University of Rochester and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Brandeis University.

The NoVo Foundation, established in 2006, pursues its mission of promoting a more caring, collaborative global culture primarily through efforts focused on ending violence against girls and women, empowering adolescent girls in the developing world, and promoting social and emotional learning in the U.S.

UIC’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences enrolls 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students in more than 20 departments and programs that offering over 40 undergraduate major fields of specialization, 40 minors, nearly 50 graduate degrees at the master’s and doctoral levels. The college features programs in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.

The inaugural lecture and investiture of NoVo Foundation Endowed Chair in Social and Emotional Learning Roger P. Weissberg will take place at 4 p.m. on Thursday, October 20th in the Illinois Room of Student Center East on the campus of University of Illinois at Chicago.

To learn more:

UIC’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences:

Roger Weissberg:

NoVo Foundation:



NoVo Foundation