CHICAGO – It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Dr. Roger P. Weissberg, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning’s (CASEL) Board Vice Chair and Chief Knowledge Officer.
Dr. Weissberg was a leading voice and foremost expert on social and emotional learning (SEL), and his seminal research helped to establish a substantial evidence base for SEL and to transform how school districts and state departments approached education. He was a co-founder of CASEL, where he spent the past 25 years guiding the organization and contributing to the growth of the SEL field. Dr. Weissberg was also Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), where he was named the NoVo Foundation Endowed Chair in Social and Emotional Learning Research in 2011.
“Roger made incalculable contributions to the science, practice, and policy of education in the United States and around the world,” said CASEL co-founder and board chair Timothy Shriver. “SEL has brought empathy, compassion, and strength to the lives of millions of children and adults, and no one did more to open their hearts and ours too than Roger. Future generations will long be indebted to him and those of us lucky enough to know and work with him will cherish his memory, his kindness, his endless commitment, and his life changing friendship.”
“Roger was a tireless advocate for SEL and dedicated to improving the lives of all children,” said CASEL President and CEO Karen Niemi. “His loss to both CASEL and the field as a whole will be felt deeply, and he will be greatly missed by both those who knew him personally and those who have felt the impact of his life’s work.”
Dr. Weissberg’s work over the last four decades helped pioneer and grow the field of SEL, including co-authoring the 1997 book Promoting Social and Emotional Learning: Guidelines for Educators, which formally defined SEL as an educational approach. He also co-led the 2011 landmark meta-analysis that showed SEL programs led to an 11 percentile point increase in students’ academic gains, and a 2017 follow-up that showed positive outcomes lasted up to 18 years after programs ended.
Recognized throughout his career as a leader in education, Dr. Weissberg’s many accolades include serving as president of the American Psychological Association’s Society for Community Research and Action, being elected to the National Academy of Education for his contributions to education research and policy, and being named one of Getting Smart’s “60 people shaping the future of K-12 education.” He received the 2000 American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Contribution Award for Applications of Psychology to Education and Training, the Society for Community Research and Action’s 2004 Distinguished Contribution to Theory and Research Award, and the 2008 Daring Dozen Award from the George Lucas Educational Foundation.
Dr. Weissberg’s legacy of scholarly excellence will live on through the CASEL Weissberg Scholars Program for Innovators of Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning, a learning community created in his honor to continue his visionary approach to research and collaboration. In tribute, contributions to the Weissberg Scholars Program will help sustain his vision and legacy.
The Weissberg family will be planning a celebration of life at a later date. More details will be available at https://casel.org/in-loving-memory-of-roger-weissberg/.