James J. Gallagher Wins NC's Old North State Award

Date Published: 03/05/2013

North Carolina’s Office of the Governor has awarded The Old North State Award to Dr. James J. Gallagher, Senior Scientist Emeritus at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute. Former State Senator Howard Lee presented the award.

The Office of the Governor issues The Old North State Award to individuals who have a proven record of exemplary service and commitment to North Carolina and to their respective communities. Gallagher has served FPG since 1970, including a term as director, and is an internationally recognized expert on early childhood development.

“In the forty years I have been at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center it has been my privilege to work with so many dedicated leaders, teachers, and researchers striving to make a positive future for North Carolina's children, and, in fact, children everywhere,” says Gallagher. “I consider this award to be a reflection of those efforts.”

Among his many accomplishments, Gallagher played an integral role on Governor James B. Hunt’s planning team to develop the North Carolina School for Science and Mathematics, which was the first residential school of its kind focusing on talented students in science and mathematics at the secondary level. Gallagher also was instrumental in updating state law and regulation to better serve gifted students in North Carolina.

Prior to joining FPG, Gallagher was the first Chief of the Bureau of Education for the Handicapped in the then U.S. Office of Education. He oversaw a wide range of new legislation representing the first major efforts by the federal government to help children with disabilities. The Bureau was at the forefront in helping to implement laws to facilitate the education of children with disabilities. Under the tenure of Commissioner Jim Allen, he was promoted to Deputy Assistant Secretary for Planning, Research, and Evaluation.

Gallagher has produced over two hundred articles in a wide range of professional journals, as well as 39 books, including one of the most widely used textbooks in gifted education, which he co-authored with his daughter, Dr. Shelagh Gallagher.

In 2009, the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) honored the elder Gallagher as the third inductee into its Legacy Series. Decades, full of his seminal research and service, had passed since he had delivered a timeless speech to the NAGC. “When we were a lusty, brawling adolescent of a nation, we spent our physical resources as if there were no tomorrow,” said Gallagher in 1965. “We now find to our sorrow that there is. This generation cannot afford to be a spendthrift in intellectual resources as it has been in its physical gifts. This price of failure is too high.”

During Senator Lee’s presentation of The Old North State Award, he noted that Gallagher had impacted many lives personally, including his own. The two of them worked together at the Educational Improvement Project at Duke University.

Forty-three years after first joining FPG, James J. Gallagher still contributes to important research and writing on gifted education, exceptional children, and early childhood education.

FPG grants permission to publish this story in part or in its entirety.

D. Shaw