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William & Mary’s Tracy Cross Named Dean of College of Education and Human Development at University of Louisiana at Lafayette

  • Tracy Cross
    Tracy Cross  Jody and Layton Smith Professor of Psychology and Gifted Education appointed Dean at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.  
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After serving the William & Mary Center for Gifted Education (CFGE) for 15 years, Tracy L. Cross, Jody and Layton Smith Professor of Psychology and Gifted Education and Executive Director of the CFGE, has been named Dean of the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

A renowned scholar and leader in the field of gifted education, Cross became the second executive director of the Center in 2009, succeeding founding executive director Joyce Van Tassel-Baska. Under his guidance, the CFGE further solidified its national and international prominence by adapting its research and activities to the evolving needs of the field.

Today, CFGE materials are used in all 50 states and approximately 30 countries. The Center trains more than 800 teachers a year, has helped more than 500 teachers obtain an endorsement in gifted education and provides programming for more than 400 high-ability students annually. Cross’s leadership has been instrumental in broadening the Center’s impact, developing innovative programming and fostering an inclusive environment for gifted and talented students from diverse socio-economic backgrounds.

“Although he will be missed, this is an excellent opportunity for Professor Cross, and I congratulate him on this new appointment,” said Dean Robert C. Knoeppel of William & Mary’s School of Education. “His contributions to our community and to the field of gifted education are immeasurable, and I look forward to seeing the continued impact of his work in his new role. The School of Education community wishes him all the best in his new endeavor.”

During Cross’s tenure at William & Mary, the CFGE has enhanced the master’s and doctoral programs in Gifted Education offered by the School of Education and added a Gifted Education certificate for practitioners. Examples of the Center’s groundbreaking research specialties include studies on suicide among gifted students, handbooks for school counselors on how to best meet the needs of gifted students and an ongoing international research partnership with the Centre for Talented Youth-Ireland. Cross is a two-time Fulbright Scholar, having earned the award in 2015 and 2023 to conduct research at Ireland’s Dublin City University in support of the country’s gifted education program.

Other notable achievements include the development of Camp Launch, an annual program that provides underserved, high-ability youth with STEM academic and enrichment opportunities; Camp Orbit, an extension of Camp Launch for high school students developed in collaboration with mentors from the W&M Geology department and Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS); and, most recently, The Optimist Project, a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Young Scholars Program which utilizes historical intergroup relations to help students develop leadership skills and make an impact in their communities. In addition, the CFGE’s annual conference for twice exceptionality provides resources for educators, leaders and families to empower students who are both high ability/gifted and have learning differences/disabilities. These and other initiatives have provided valuable opportunities for students who might otherwise be overlooked, ensuring that gifted education is accessible to all.

Cross has been conducting research into the psychology and education of students with gifts and talents since the early 1980s. Prior to his tenure at William & Mary, Cross served at Ball State University as the George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Gifted Education and the Executive Director of the Center for Gifted Studies and Talent Development, as well as the Institute for Research on the Psychology of Gifted Students. He also spent nine years as the Executive Director of the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities, a residential high school for intellectually gifted adolescents.

Cross’s academic contributions are extensive. In 2019, he was identified as the world’s most productive researcher in gifted education according to a study published in High Ability Studies. He has published over 300 articles, chapters and columns and authored or edited 14 books. His scholarly work includes over 400 conference presentations and the editing of eight journals, five of which are in the field of gifted studies.

His accolades include the Distinguished Service Award from both The Association for the Gifted of the Council for Exceptional Children and the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC). Additionally, he has received the Early Leader, Early Scholar, and the Distinguished Scholar Awards from NAGC, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the MENSA Education and Research Foundation. In 2022, Cross was honored by the NAGC by being named a Legacy in the field of Gifted Education. This honor is awarded to individuals who have made a significant impact on gifted education through their practice, policy, scholarship, teaching, publications or service. Cross's contributions span all these areas, demonstrating his profound influence on the field.

Cross’s last day at William & Mary will be July 31. As he transitions to his new role as Dean at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, his legacy at William & Mary will undoubtedly endure. His innovative approaches and commitment to gifted education have left an indelible mark on the institution and the broader educational community.