New Jacobson Center for Comprehensive Literacy Director Named

Lori Norton-MeierLori Norton-Meier assumed the position of director, Jacobson Center for Comprehensive Literacy (JCCL), on August 17, Dean Colleen Mulholland has announced. The Denver, Iowa, native, a professor with the University of Louisville since 2009, is returning to her home state. She also joins the Department of Curriculum and Instruction as a professor of literacy education. 

Norton-Meier, a literacy specialist with a focus on early childhood, served in several positions with the Department of Special Education, Early Childhood and Prevention Science in Louisville, most recently as director, Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Research Center; director, Kentucky Reading Project; and professor, literacy education. Prior to her move to Kentucky, she had served on the faculty of Iowa State University, Kansas State University and Wichita State University. At the start of her career, she was a kindergarten teacher in the Des Moines Public Schools.

At each of her university stops, she directed or co-directed writing projects. In addition to the Kentucky project, this included the Kansas Writing Project; the Flint Hills Writing Project; and the International Science Literacy Project. 

“I’ve focused on the study of the language and literacy practices of children, adolescents, teachers, and families as they engage in the act of inquiry. My goal is to disrupt the deficit narrative to transform teaching and learning environments,” Norton-Meier says. In doing so, she looks to what learners can bring to the learning environment to enhance their learning. 

Norton-Meier holds a bachelor’s degree in early childhood-related studies from Iowa State University and a master’s degree in early childhood education from the University of Iowa. She completed her dissertation from UI in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis on language, literacy and culture. 

Norton-Meier succeeds Deborah Tidwell who has served as interim director for the past year upon the retirement of Salli Forbes. Tidwell maintains her role as a professor of literacy education. 

The JCCL was established in November 2010 with a gift of $11 million from the late Richard O. Jacobson, a well known supporter of University of Northern Iowa as well as other education and civic programs throughout Iowa. It seeks to promote comprehensive literacy of all learners through expanding literacy knowledge and instructional expertise among teacher education students and educators. Through its programs, JCCL hopes to close the achievement gap between diverse groups while accelerating literacy learning and proficiency among all students.