The University of Maryland has received a $1.75 million estate gift from alumna Jean E. Lokerson Ph.D. ’70 to support student scholarships in the College of Education. The John T. and Dorothy E. Lokerson Endowed Scholarship in Education—named in honor of Lokerson’s parents who encouraged her to pursue a career in education—provides merit and need-based student scholarships toward tuition and fees that are equivalent to two years of full-time upper-level undergraduate or graduate study.
“This remarkable gift will help students excel in their academic pursuits and ensure that the College can attract the most talented students,” said Jennifer K. Rice, dean of the College of Education. “Dr. Lokerson’s passion for the field of education and for teaching teachers is reflected in this endowed scholarship, which will help transform students’ experiences and enhance our research and instruction through the contributions of the best and brightest students.”
The gift supports Fearless Ideas: The Campaign for Maryland, UMD’s $1.5 billion fundraising campaign focused on elevating and expanding the university’s mission of service, enhancing academic distinction and bolstering UMD’s leading-edge research enterprise.
A pioneer in the emerging field of special education, Lokerson, who passed away on November 7, 2016, was dedicated to understanding and addressing the challenges of having a disability.
“Jean found great joy in teaching special education students and as a ‘teacher of teachers,’ through her role as a professor in the university setting,” said Elise Blankenship, a longtime friend and colleague of Lokerson. “It is a fitting reflection of her legacy that her generous gift to the university will help prepare the next generation of educators for excellence.”
A committed, lifelong educator, Lokerson’s interest in education began in her childhood home, where she taught her triplet younger siblings. After receiving an undergraduate degree in elementary education from The George Washington University in 1959, she taught elementary education in Montgomery County, Maryland, before pursuing a master’s degree in special education from Syracuse University. She completed her doctorate in special education from the University of Maryland in 1970 with a minor in human development.
“Jean valued her education at the University of Maryland, her professors, and the many opportunities it provided her, which helped shape her career,” Blankenship said.
Lokerson then transitioned into higher education, where she helped prepare special education teachers for the classroom at a number of institutions, prior to becoming a professor emerita at Virginia Commonwealth University. In addition to receiving numerous professional honors, she was recognized for her innovative use of simulations, technology and hands-on experiences in teaching special education.
The undergraduate and graduate student recipients, referred to as John T. and Dorothy E. Lokerson Scholars, will be selected first on the basis of merit and academic excellence and then on the basis of financial need.