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The youth book collection at Eastern Oregon University’s Pierce Library has been named in honor of EOU education professor Carol Lauritzen, above. (Chris Baxter/The Observer)
Long career of fostering literacy saluted
Whether providing books to children whose families cannot afford them or helping children in Croatia learn to read, Eastern Oregon University education professor Carol Lauritzen makes reaching out to others a habit.
The tables were reversed on Thursday.
Lauritzen was on the receiving end of many heartfelt tributes and salutes from her colleagues during a ceremony naming the youth book collection at EOU’s Pierce Library in her honor. The EOU professor said she was touched by this salute, noting that it was particularly meaningful because if reflects her lifetime commitment to fostering literacy.
“I feel extremely fortunate to have my name here,” said Lauritzen, who has taught at EOU since 1988 and will retire this month.
Retired EOU education professor Ruthi Davenport led the effort to get the children’s book collection named in Lauritzen’s honor. Davenport spoke about her longtime colleague at the ceremony.
“Carol understands the power of literature to transform us as we lose ourselves in a good book, connect with richly hewn characters and marvel at the glory of beautiful language,” Davenport said.
Michael Jaeger, an EOU education professor, and also a longtime colleague, credited Lauritzen with transforming his life by introducing him to works that shaped his perspective.
The children’s book collection at Pierce Library contains about 15,000 volumes. It is the largest book collection east of the Cascades.
The majority of the books are from the library of Eastern’s old Ackerman Elementary School, which closed in 1997. The books were set to be distributed to grade schools in Union County before Lauritzen stepped in.
“But Carol had a different vision. She knows the value of children’s literature as a resource for teachers,” Davenport said.
Also during her tenure at Eastern, Lauritzen started the Mountain Valleys Reading Council, which provides books to children, often to families who cannot afford them, and traveled to Croatia about 10 times to help teachers there hone their skills.
“Carol, your life has been a symphony of giving back,” Davenport said.
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