The University Record, June 25, 1996

Two U-M profs win prestigious MacArthur fellowships

By Diane Swanbrow
News and Information Services

Two professors are among 21 new MacArthur Fellows announced by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The U-M professors to win the prestigious five-year fellowships are Vonnie C. McLoyd, professor of psychology and research scientist at the Center for Human Growth and Development, and Thylias Moss, professor of English.



McLoyd, who will receive $280,000, is a developmental psychologist studying the interactive influences of race, ethnicity, family and economic hardship on human development. She has been a pioneer in attempting to describe the psychological processes through which economic deprivation influences African-American families and children.

McLoyd is currently on sabbatical as a visiting professor at Duke University. She received her B.A. in 1971 from Talladega College and her M.A. (1973) and Ph.D. (1975) from the U-M. She was born in Birmingham, Ala.

"Vonnie McLoyd is a superb developmental psychologist who has turned her attentive eye and analytic mind to the critically important research question of how economic hardship affects the lives of American children and adolescents," said Patricia Y. Gurin, chair of the Department of Psychology.

"The value of her work has been consistently recognized by external funding agencies and by national policy-makers concerned with poverty and its effects. The Psychology Department and the Center for Human Growth and Development couldn't be prouder of her!"

Moss, who will receive $265,000 from the Foundation, is a poet who conjures an evocative sense of place and community in her work. She draws on her experiences and ethnic history, combining a gift for narrative with a talent for language, imagery and syntactical music.

Her books of poetry include Hosiery Seams on Bowlegged Woman, Pyramid of Bone, Rainbow Remnants in Rock Bottom Ghetto Sky, and Small Congregations: New and Selected Poems. She has also written two children's books: I Want to Be and Somewhere Else Right Now.

Moss received her B.A. from Oberlin College and her M.A. from the University of New Hampshire in 1983. She was born in Cleveland, Ohio.

"Thylias has been a wonderful teacher and colleague," says Martha Vicinus, chair of the Department of English Language and Literature. "She is the author of a prize-winning children's story, several marvelous books of poetry, and she's completing her autobiography. This award comes as no surprise to those of us who know and admire her work."

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is one of the largest private philanthropic foundations in the United States. Through its work, the foundation "seeks lasting solutions to critical problems throughout the world by investing in creative people and ideas."

Counting this new group of 21 fellows, a total of 479 fellows have been named to receive the "no strings attached" grants since the program began in 1981. Recent U-M recipients include Profs. Michael Marletta, Alice Fulton, John H. Holland, Stephen Lee, Sherry B. Ortner, Rebecca J. Scott and Henry T. Wright.