Helen Mansfield Robinson

Dr. Helen Mansfield Robinson, best known for authoring the "Dick & Jane" reading books, created a Reading/Language Arts Fund in The Patton College in 1977. The Center has a Reading Lab named in her honor.

Photo courtesy of: The Patton College of Education

Dorothy Leal

Dr. Dorothy J. Leal taught Elementary Education in The Patton College for nine years, and recently donated a large collection of award-winning children’s books.

Photo courtesy of: The Patton College of Education

Ed Stevens

Dr. Edward Stevens, Jr. established the Center for Study and Development of Literacy and Language in The Patton College. The Center is now named after him.

Photo courtesy of: The Patton College of Education

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The Patton College’s Stevens Literacy Center Dedication, Nov. 30, Mrs. McDavis coming back for honorary award


Nearly a year ago, in January, The Patton College hired a new director for the Stevens Literacy Center, Dr. Julie Francis, and made a commitment to reinvigorate the Center’s work in reading education, community outreach, and literacy across the lifespan. 

To celebrate the Center, The Patton College is hosting a Dedication Ceremony, in honor of Dr. Edward Stevens, Jr., on Thursday, Nov. 30 with a reception starting at 5 p.m. and the program starting at 5:45 p.m. in McCracken Hall.

Dr. Francis, who received her Ph.D. in Reading Education from The Patton College in 2006, has extensive experience with tutoring intervention, assessment, and remediation of elementary students with reading and writing difficulties. She has 25 years of experience in literacy education and in the past 11 months has significantly raised the profile of the Center and its impact on the community.

The Stevens Literacy Center was established in 1997 by Dr. Edward W. Stevens, Jr., a distinguished professor of history and philosophy of education who joined the College of Education faculty in 1971. The focus of his work and research, and therefore the Center, was on improving lives by researching, developing and promoting literacy across the lifespan.

The Stevens Literacy Center also houses the Helen M. Robinson Center for Reading, which reopened this past summer to provide literacy enrichment and tutoring to K-12 children in Southeast Ohio. The tutors are Patton College teacher candidates dedicated to helping children in areas of reading and writing.

The family of Dr. Stevens will be in attendance at the Dedication, as will the family of Dr. Helen M. Robinson.

Dr. Helen Mansfield Robinson was an author and educator in the field of reading education for nearly 60 years. Born in Athens in 1906, she graduated from Ohio University in 1926, and began an illustrious career as a researcher, professor, superintendent of schools, and psychologist. After graduating from the University of Chicago with a Ph.D. in 1944, she became the director of the University of Chicago Reading Clinic and held that position until 1958. Dr. Robinson is known for her work in 1962-65 as author of the popular Dick and Jane series used to teach children to read.

Dr. Robinson received an honorary doctorate from Ohio University in 1976, as well as the Ohio University Alumni Association’s Certificate of Merit, the association’s highest honor.

The Dedication Ceremony will include the presentation of the Helen M. Robinson Distinguished Literacy Advocate Award to recipient Former First Lady Deborah M. McDavis. Mrs. McDavis served on the Advisory Board for the Stevens Literacy Center. She had a career teaching college and high school English for more than three decades and has been a dedicated advocate of literacy and adult continuing education programs.

McCracken Hall is home to Mrs. McDavis’ portrait, which will be unveiled during the reception.

In addition, Ohio University Professor Emeritus, Dorothy J. Leal will be recognized. She taught Elementary Education in The Patton College for nine years, and recently donated a large collection of award-winning children’s books to the Center.

The Edward Stevens Literacy Center Dedication Ceremony is open to the public. It takes place Thursday, Nov. 30, 5 to 6:30 p.m. in McCracken Hall. The reception will begin at 5 p.m. in the first-floor atrium, which will include the unveiling of the portrait of Former First Lady Deborah M. McDavis, and the program will begin at 5:45 in the second-floor lobby. A tour of the Center is optional for participants as well.

These are exciting times for the Center. WOUB and NPR will be featuring stories on the Center and Dr. Helen M. Robinson in the next several weeks.

“The Stevens Literacy Center is striving to become a vibrant learning community that reinforces The Patton College of Education's core values of preparing leader-educators, practitioners, and human service professionals who are committed to holistic learning and engage in collaborative efforts with our SE Ohio community,” said Francis.

Outreach efforts include working with Shade Community Center, Athens Public Library, HAPCAP, Kids on Campus, Athens County Jobs and Family Services, ASPIRE, and area schools to engage in literacy programming. The Center is also involved in research including work with reading faculty to study the impact of the clinical model of teacher preparation on third grade reading achievement. This study is funded by the ODHE.

Expect to hear a lot more about The Stevens Literacy Center in the months and years to come.