Frances Horowitz, former KU vice chancellor and child development specialist, dies at 88

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Frances Horowitz, former KU vice chancellor for Research, Graduate Studies and Public Services, died on March 15, 2021.

A former University of Kansas vice chancellor who went on to become president of the Graduate Center at the City University of New York died on March 15.

Frances Horowitz was vice chancellor for Research, Graduate Studies and Public Services at KU from 1978 to 1991. She first came to KU in 1960 as a guest research associate with KU’s Bureau of Child Research, which is now called the Life Span Institute. Later, she became a full-time professor and associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, according to her biography on the website for KU’s Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity.

During her years at KU, Horowitz became “internationally recognized” for her work as an educator and researcher in the field of child development, particularly infants, the biography states.

John Colombo, KU’s interim dean of liberal arts and sciences, wrote in a March 17 message that Horowitz made seminal contributions to developmental psychology and was one of the founders of the field of infant studies. She laid the groundwork for the study of how interactions between infants/children and their caregivers lead to variances in developmental outcomes.

Horowitz was the founding chair of the Department of Human Development and Family Life, now called the Department of Applied Behavioral Science. Colombo wrote that Horowitz, during her time as vice chancellor, also established the groundwork for the KU Center for Research.

Colombo wrote that Horowitz’s death was “deeply personal” for him.

“Frances brought me to KU as a postdoctoral trainee in 1982. Her mentoring was profoundly wise, tolerant, and unfailingly kind, and I will always be thankful for my time with her,” he wrote.

After leaving KU, Horowitz went on to serve as president of the City University of New York Graduate Center for nearly 15 years. She is known for moving the Graduate Center from its former location in an office building on 42nd Street to its current location in what used to be the B. Altman & Company department store at 34th Street and Fifth Avenue.

According to a news release from The Graduate Center at CUNY, when the new location opened in 1999, Horowitz reportedly said, “People will still shop in this building, but now they will shop for ideas.”

Horowitz was born on May 5, 1932, in the Bronx. In 1954, she graduated from Antioch College with a degree in philosophy and earned a master’s in elementary education from Goucher College. In 1959, she received a Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the University of Iowa.

According to an obituary in The New York Times, Horowitz died from heart failure at her home in New York City.


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