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Dr. Dolores Straker

Dr. Dolores Y. Straker

Dr. Dolores Yvonne Straker passed away from cancer on April 4, 2008. She earned a B.A. degree in Linguistics from Queens College, an M.S. degree in Educational Psychology and a Ph.D. in Psycholinguistics from Yeshiva University. Her dissertation, Situational Variants in Language Use of African Americans, was directed by Dr. Joshua Fishman and Dr. Vera Johns, two leading scholars in the field of linguistics.  Straker authored numerous articles and reports on developmental education in higher education and gave conference presentations internationally, nationally, and locally on developmental reading, writing, language and literacy, and cross-cultural communication.  She was co-editor with Jerrie Scott and Laurie Katz of Affirming Students’ Right to Their Own Language: Bridging Language Policies and Pedagogical Practices, published in 2009 by Routledge Publishers and the National Council of Teachers of English, a book that is dedicated to her memory.  

Dr. Straker was an active member of several professional organizations, including the National Council of Teachers of English and the International Pragmatics Association. She was one of the founding members of the International Association of Black Linguists and Educators (IABLE) in 1972 where an international  group of graduate students of African descent discovered life-long friends and associates who shared a vision. At the time of her death, Dr. Straker was the first African American Dean of Raymond Walters  College, a 2-year regional campus of the University of Cincinnati.  Prior to her appointment at Raymond Walters College, she was University Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the City University of New York (CUNY) Central Office, where she managed three university-wide programs: the University’s educational opportunity programs (SEEK and College Discover), the Freshman Year Experience Program, and the Writing Across the Curriculum Program.  Dr. Straker worked at York College for 25 years as a faculty member, director of the campus SEEK Program, and associated dean for academic affairs.  She also served as a language/literacy consultant to Educational Testing Services and as a researcher at the National Reading Center in Urbana, Illinois.

In addition, Dolores Straker was also a musician who enjoyed playing the electric bass with a jazz group in New York night clubs.  She will be missed by her son, Brian Taylor, who is now completing his doctorate degree in Engineering at Case Western University in Ohio.

For more information about Dr. Straker’s life, click here.


–Modified from an Obit written by Jerrie L. Scott, Professor of Literacy Education, Instruction and Curriculum Leadership Department, and Director of the Reading Center, University of Memphis

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