Center for family literacy founded to continue work of longtime UAB researcher

Maryann Manning was a renowned expert in reading and writing instruction and integrated curriculum.

maryann manningA center for literacy will honor and continue the work of renowned literacy expert and longtime University of Alabama at Birmingham faculty member Maryann Manning, Ed.D.

The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees approved the creation of the Maryann Manning Family Literacy Center during its meeting Friday, Nov. 7.

The Manning Family Center, housed in the UAB School of Education, will bring together expertise from many areas of literacy to provide services for children and families in the Birmingham community, Alabama, regionally and globally. It will serve as a coordination point for research and foster initiatives at UAB and through community partners.

“Building on the 40-year enduring legacy of Dr. Maryann Manning’s work in literacy, the Manning Family Center will provide a community hub of services to promote a heightened level of health and literacy for families,” said Lynn Kirkland, Ed.D., chair of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. “The pivotal location and accessibility of resources at UAB position the Maryann Manning Family Literacy Center to better serve families, schools and nonprofit organizations and provide leadership in the region for literacy work.”

Manning began her career at age 19 as a high school English and music teacher. She joined the UAB faculty in 1972 and served 35 years, finishing her UAB career as distinguished professor emerita. She was the inaugural recipient of the Ellen Gregg Ingalls/UAB National Alumni Society Award for Lifetime Achievement in Teaching in 2002.

Manning wrote more than 10 books and was an active member of the International Reading Association, which has named a volunteer service award in her honor.

“Literacy is key to success in life,” said Dean Deborah L. Voltz, Ed.D., of the UAB School of Education. “The Maryann Manning Family Literacy Center will make an important difference in enhancing literacy outcomes for our community, and in facilitating the national discussion on what works in literacy instruction. It is very fitting that this center be named for Dr. Maryann Manning, who worked tirelessly to advance literacy instruction, thereby earning the love and respect of the literacy professional community, both locally and nationally. Consistent with the vision of the UAB School of Education, the Maryann Manning Family Literacy Center will transform lives to optimize human potential.”

“Building on the 40-year enduring legacy of Dr. Maryann Manning’s work in literacy, the Manning Family Center will provide a community hub of services to promote a heightened level of health and literacy for families. The pivotal location and accessibility of resources at UAB position the Maryann Manning Family Literacy Center to better serve families, schools and nonprofit organizations and provide leadership in the region for literacy work.”

The Manning Family Center structure will provide a streamlined approach to UAB’s current literacy work in the community and create innovative approaches to improving literacy rates. UAB President Ray L. Watts, M.D., Alabama State Department of Education Superintendent Tommy Bice, Ph.D., Birmingham City Schools, the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham and the Literacy Council of Central Alabama submitted letters of support to the board.

The Manning Family Center’s definition of literacy encompasses comprehension of languages, mathematics, arts and sciences, and finances. Initial goals for the center include addressing literacy and health-related needs for families, researching current issues in literacy, and working to enhance the literacy level of diverse populations.

Several components of the center are currently in place throughout the School of Education, including the Innovative Learning Collaborative partnership between the School and Birmingham City Schools, Children’s Creative Learning Center, the Young Authors’ Conference, the MidSouth Reading/Writing Institute, and the Red Mountain Writing Project.

The Manning Family Center will offer a literacy clinic for children, which will also offer tutoring experience to UAB students, family literacy programs that could offer interdisciplinary collaboration opportunities across UAB schools, and a reading assessment clinic. The Manning Family Center will publish an online literary journal, The MidSouth Literacy Journal, to promote and enhance literary research, and host public events to promote reading.

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