Honorary Doctorates

2023 Recipients

Ursula Davis

Ursula Davis is a dedicated and renowned early childhood specialist, an effective community organizer, and a tireless advocate for equity, justice, and anti-bias education that starts with high-quality early childhood programs. A 1974 graduate of Bank Street College, Ms. Davis represents the best of the Bank Street community with her focus on advocating for all children and embodying change through her work with organizations, communities, families, and students. With years of experience teaching kindergarten and early childhood in both urban and rural settings, Ms. Davis became an expert practitioner of developmentally appropriate and student-centered learning. She also came to understand the power of building partnerships with families, developing a philosophical stance grounded in the idea that helping children grow academically, socially, and emotionally is a group effort. For decades, Ms. Davis has mentored many early childhood educators and become a champion for students in New York City and  across our nation. She has served as deputy director of the New York City Commission on Childhood and Child Care Programs and director of early childhood education for District 4 in East Harlem. Now, she provides consulting services to schools, childcare centers, and corporations nationwide, including training workshops for kindergarten teachers that explain how the details of classroom setups make a difference in learning.Ms. Davis has stayed connected to the Bank street community, successfully forging partnerships between Bank Street and many organizations, schools, and districts. She has taught early childhood courses at our Graduate School, worked with the School for Children, and conducted seminars in public schools about how to make use of Bank Street’s resources and pedagogy. She also helped establish and served on the advisory board of the Bank Street Urban Education Initiative and works as a senior consultant with our Bank Street Education Center. In 2017, Ms. Davis was honored with a Distinguished Service Award from the Bank Street College Alumni Association. 


Guadalupe Valdés

Guadalupe Valdés is one of the preeminent experts on Spanish-English bilingualism in the United States, has devoted her professional career to improving the lives and experiences of Latinx and Black students by advocating for inclusive classrooms where the language and cultural practices of all students are considered. Dr. Valdés’ desire to advance language teaching and learning in a multilingual world began from her own challenging experiences growing up on the US-Mexico border, crossing from Chihuahua, Mexico to El Paso, Texas every day for school. After earning her PhD from Florida State University, Dr. Valdés returned to the Southwest to teach at New Mexico State University. She went on to become the first Latina appointed to a full professorship in the University of California system at UC Berkeley. and, in 1992, she joined Stanford University. Now professor emerita, Dr. Valdés is the founder and executive director of a non-profit organization called English Together, which prepares volunteers to provide one-on-one language coaching in workplace English to low-wage, immigrant workers. Dr. Valdés’s work in the field of bilingual education and ethnographic scholarship has advanced the ways we teach languages and literacy in all respects. She has fearlessly worked to transform bilingual education, approaching issues ranging from methods of instruction to the role of education in national policies on immigration. Because of her work, we understand the importance of considering the language practices of families, as well as the powerful role schools and teachers have on the way immigrant students learn. In the 1970s and ’80s, Dr. Valdés was the first scholar to call for change to educational programs for Latinx students. She advanced the expanding field of Spanish language teaching in secondary schools and universities, successfully relabeling it from foreign language education to “heritage” language education. Later, as it became clear that this label led to experiences of alienation for some Latinx students, she distanced herself from this idea. Always putting the needs of students first, she pushed back on the bilingual education standards she had helped to grow in order to keep the curricula focused on the complexity and creativity of bilingual learners. 

Past Recipients

  • Doctor of Humane Letters Honoris Causa

    2022: Carol Hillman

    2021: Hubert Dyasi

    2021: Louise Derman-Sparks

    2019: Dr. Eleanor Duckworth

    2018: Frances Lucerna

    2017: U.S. Representative John Lewis

    2016: Ofelia García

    2015: Richard Rothstein

    2014: Margaret Honey & Perry Klass

    2013: Olga Murray & Margery Franklin

    2012: Dr. Freeman Hrabowski & Jerry Pinkney

    2011: Martiza Macdonald & Katie Salen

    2010: Beverly Hall & Pedro Noguera

    2009: Susan Feingold & Michael Spock

    2008: Susan V. Berresford & Ashley F. Bryan

    2007: Leonard Marcus & Parker Palmer

    2006: Dr. Bettye Fletcher Comer, Alphonse Fletcher, & Dr. Marta Tienda

    2005: Wendy Ewald & Bryan Stevenson

    2004: Billy Taylor, Eleanor Grieg Ukoli, & Margot Stern Strom

    2003: Marion Bolden, Governor James B. Hunt, & Joan Maynard

    2002: Michelle Fine, Robert Fullilove, Mindy Fullilove, & David Wolkenberg

    2001: Joan W. Blos, Suzanne C. Carothers, & Richard W. Riley

    2000: Emory Shaw Campbell, Harriet Mayor Fulbright (D), & Lorraine Monroe

    1999: Faith Ringgold, Tom Roderick, & Lisbeth Schorr

    1998: Geoffrey Canada, Patricia F. Carini, & Gordon Klopf

    1997: Jim Cummins, Leah Levinger (D), & Vivian Paley

    1996: Lisa Delpit, Ellen Galinsky, Robert Herbert, & Gus Trowbridge