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John Carney Memorial Service Slated for Friday

July 11, 2007

John J. Carney, professor of education, died in Boston early Saturday morning, July 7, from complications of a cerebral hemorrhage suffered in June. He was 65 years old.

A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held Friday, July 13 at 4 p.m. in the Courtyard Reading Room of Dimond Library.

Soon after his appointment in 1973, he assumed coordination of the Graduate Program in Reading. During the next three decades he developed the size and stature of the program, establishing it as one of the premier programs in the Northeast. In the early 80’s with colleagues in the departments of education, English, and psychology, he authored the first doctoral program in education: The Ph.D. in Reading and Writing. In 1988 his leadership in literacy was recognized by the Granite State Council of the International Reading Association with a Literacy Award. His colleagues named Carney the Kimball Fellow in 1997 as recognition of his “leadership in education.”

Carney taught a range of courses in literacy, but he brought particular enthusiasm and expertise to the teaching of children’s literature. He once remarked that he had a great job in which he could spend his days reading and talking about the very best books for kids. He asserted the importance of using literature to teach children to read and engaging students in making their own choices about books. He commanded broad knowledge of contemporary and classic children’s books, and in his recent scholarship he explored the increasing threat of censorship in schools. Over the past 34 years his work has influenced thousands of New Hampshire teachers as they have read and had their students read children’s literature.

In the early 1990’s Carney developed the North Country M.Ed. in Reading to the address the critical shortage of reading specialists in northern New Hampshire, with a cohort of 23 students graduating from the program three years later. Along with his work at UNH, Carney held guest appointments at Massey University, New Zealand and Prescott College, Arizona.

Carney valued community service. He volunteered in the Barrington Food Pantry, and in 1999 was recognized by the town for his service. In 1997 Carney and his colleagues initiated Seacoast Reads, a volunteer literacy tutoring program. This year marked the 10th anniversary of the program with 1,000 UNH students having tutored a like number of elementary school children.

He grew up in Orange, New Jersey, the son of the late John Joseph and Lillian Miller Carney. He studied English at Seton Hall University, and following his BA in 1963, he earned a master’s in reading and special education along with two additional teaching certifications, also at Seton Hall. He completed his doctoral work in reading education at Syracuse University in 1973. Carney taught high school English in Newark and Irvington, New Jersey, before a two-year stint at Essex County College.

He is survived by his wife, Heather Campbell Carney, and his three children: Maura Carney, Sean Carney, and Patrick Carney; his brother, Stephen Carney; and his sister Mary Beth Carney.

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