Remembering Marcia Gentry 

Marcia Gentry
Director of GER2I & Professor of Educational Studies

It is with great sadness that we inform you that our friend and colleague, Dr. Marcia Gentry, passed away on August 31, 2022. 

Professor Gentry was a giant in the field of gifted, creative, and talented education. Prior to her entry into higher education, she spent 12 years in K-12 settings as a teacher and administrator. These experiences informed all of her subsequent academic work. She received her PhD from the University of Connecticut in 1996 with a specialization in Gifted and Talented Development, Educational Psychology and Research, Measurement, and Evaluation. She joined the Department of Educational Studies at Purdue in 2004 and served as a professor in the Gifted and Talented Education program and as Director of Gifted Education Resource Institute. During her time at Purdue, she led the gifted education program and the Gifted Education Research and Resource Center (GER2I) to international prominence by providing innovative summer residential programs and collaborating with K-12 school partners across the nation to expand access to academically challenging curriculum and gifted instructional strategies for all students.

In recognition of her professional contributions, Professor Gentry received numerous awards. Within the College of Education, she received the Outstanding Faculty Engagement Award (2018), the Outstanding Graduate Faculty Mentor Award (2019), and was a two-time recipient of the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Faculty Scholarship (2012 and 2020). She received national awards from professional organizations such as the National Association for Gifted Children’s (NAGC) Distinguished Scholar Award (2014) and Palmarium Award (2018). Most recently, in 2021 she received the Legacy Scholar award from the NAGC Conceptual Foundations Network, and in 2022 she received the NAGC President’s Award for pioneering and continued leadership in the field of gifted education. Her work was frequently cited in prominent media outlets such as the Houston Chronicle, the Kansas City Star, the Miami Herald, U.S. News and World Report, and Education Week.

Professor Gentry pioneered methods of identifying giftedness in youth from low socioeconomic status, Black, Latino, and Native American communities — populations who were and still are underrepresented in gifted and talented programs across the nation. These efforts include her work on the HOPE Scale to help teachers identify academic as well as social and affective components of giftedness in students from low income and culturally diverse backgrounds. In collaboration with her colleagues and fellow faculty in our Gifted, Creative, and Talented program, she led a decades-long program of research to provide educational programing for gifted and talented youth that was inclusive and expanded opportunities for academic excellence and psychosocial development among historically underserved populations.  

While Professor Gentry’s substantial body of scholarly research has had a profound impact on her academic peers, she was most passionate about translating this research into practice. For example, her early work on Total School Cluster Grouping provided a research-based model for professional development in elementary schools across the country to increase the identification of gifted students from underrepresented groups, improve teacher practices by incorporating gifted education strategies for all students, and increase student achievement in reading, math, and science. Under her leadership, GER2I launched the Native American Research Initiative, an effort to expand access to gifted and talented programming focused on the needs of Native American, Alaska Native, and Indigenous gifted, creative, and talented students. Building on this effort, Project Hope+, funded by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, supported scholarships and travel for Native American youth to attend GER2I summer residential camps. This effort has continued to grow with support from a number of public and private sources (Indiana Department of Education, Davidson Foundation, Royal Dutch/Shell Company, Indianapolis Public Schools, Evonik, Tippecanoe Labs, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, GER2I Advisory Board Members, GER2I, College of Education, Purdue University, and private donors).  

Just this fall, Professor Gentry (PI) and her colleagues, Professors Yukiko Maeda, Nielsen Pereira, Jennifer Richardson, and Kristen Seward, received a $3.2 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program. This most recent award, along with others, will ensure the continuation and expansion of GER2I’s signature educational programs for promoting academic excellence and the development of scholar identities among underserved populations of gifted and talented students. 

Professor Gentry has been an incredible mentor to several generations of doctoral students and to the junior faculty in her program and beyond. She was generous with her time and support to students, staff, and her faculty colleagues, always willing to step up and help when asked. Her students have won numerous awards from NAGC and other national organizations, and many have gone on to become scholars and leaders in Gifted, Creative, and Talented Education around the world.  

We will miss Professor Gentry’s presence as we move forward to further her vision of providing access to highest quality education to all students regardless of income or demographics.