David Lawrence Jr., early childhood education advocate, joining the University of Miami school of education

Education majors at the University of Miami will soon be taught by a visionary who helped shape and fund Florida’s early childhood education mandate.

The Coral Gables university announced Monday that David Lawrence Jr., a nationally known early childhood education advocate, community leader and former Miami Herald editor and publisher, has joined the School of Education and Human Development.

At the university, Lawrence will be known as an “Education and Community Leadership Scholar.”

“We are extremely proud and pleased to have Dave Lawrence join us,” said Isaac Prilleltensky, dean of the school. “In his long and illustrious career, he has been tireless in his fight to improve the lives of children through a focus on early education and community engagement. His experience and sensitivity to the issues of education in our community will help enhance our curriculum and bring new excitement to our school. ”

Lawrence will be associated with the Teaching and Learning Department where he will serve as a guest lecturer for education departments.

Lawrence will also assist Prilleltensky in “the planning and administration of strategic priorities to advance the mission of the school,” the university said in a statement.

Along with his new duties at the UM, Lawrence will continue to lead the Early Childhood Initiative Foundation, based in Miami, and the Children’s Movement of Florida.

“This will be my lifetime’s first opportunity to be in a classroom regularly to teach and learn and contribute – and otherwise help the dean any way I can,” Lawrence said in the same statement. “It so fits in with my work to build a movement for America’s children."

After retiring as publisher of The Herald in 1999, Lawrence became president of the Early Childhood Initiative Foundation and head of the Children’s Movement of Florida.

He spearheaded two crucial campaigns to win Miami-Dade taxpayer support for the Children’s Trust. He was also a central figure in the passage of the statewide constitutional amendment for free prekindergarten availability for all 4-year-olds.

At the University of Florida, his alma mater, Lawrence has been named “University Scholar for Early Childhood Development and Readiness.” A chair in early childhood studies is also named in his honor.