In Memorium

This page is intended to highlight news of the passing of any AEA members within the recent months. These individuals enriched our lives and our community. We are saddened by the loss and ask that you join us in remembering them fondly. If you have news to post here, please send to info@eval.org

Mary Corcoran

AEA mourns the recent passing of Professor Emerita Mary Corcoran at the age of 94. She was a faculty member at the University of Minnesotamcorcoran.png for over 30 years and a long-time supporter of the U of MN graduate programs in evaluation. Professor Corcoran provided funds to sponsor an annual lecture at the Minnesota Evaluation Studies Institute (MESI) Spring Training and to support travel and research for many students.

She graduated from Hunter College (BA) and Stanford University (MA) before coming to Minnesota for doctoral studies in Educational Psychology. By the time she arrived in the Twin Cities in 1953, she had already worked in one of the country’s pioneering market research firms, the Educational Testing Service, and at the University of Vermont as a faculty member.  Subsequently, after completing her PhD and joining the Department of Educational Psychology faculty, Dr. Corcoran spent nearly two years in Paris directing a team that conducted the first international study of admission to higher education, an experience that, she said, stretched her immensely and provided a rich foundation for studies of access to higher education, a longstanding interest.

Dr. Corcoran’s research had three foci: issues of access to higher education, faculty studies, and higher education policy studies and evaluation, the areas in which she taught.  “All that I did really had a common base,” she explained. “The problems I worked with couldn’t be solved experimentally.  Solutions instead required very systematic considerations about a given issue.  My training enabled me to do this—to observe, understand, and evaluate situations, to apply what I knew about asking questions to clarity and develop an understanding of processes.  This is basically what institutional research is about—helping people understand what is happening in their organizations.”

In the years following her retirement in 1986, Dr. Corcoran continued her relationships at the University through various committees, boards, and consulting activities.  Given her post-retirement energy, it was unsurprising that she had a particular interest in her work on a task force on “uncapping” mandatory retirement.  In 2009 she published a book of her family history, tracing her 19th century Irish roots. 


Virginia C. Shipman

Virginia Shipman passed peacefully on June 30, 2016, at St. Catherine Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. With a life-long love of learning, Virginia attended Packer Collegiate Institute, and received degrees from the University of Rochester, Penn State University, and her doctorate in psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. After teaching and conducting research at the University of Chicago, she led a landmark longitudinal study of children and their families in the Head Start preschool program as Senior Researcher at the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, New Jersey. In 1986, she moved to Albuquerque to chair the Family Studies program in the University of New Mexico College of Education, retiring in 2015.

She received a variety of professional honors (including election to the Sigma Xi scientific honor society), was a founding member of the Evaluation Research Society (now the American Evaluation Association), served as President of the Eastern Educational Research Association and Faculty Senate President at UNM, and created the Virginia Curran Shipman Doctoral Fellowship for academically outstanding doctoral students in the College of Education’s Family Studies Program. 

To donate to the Virginia Curran Shipman Doctoral Fellowship:  https://www.unmfund.org/fund/virginia-curran-shipman/

Thoughtful gifts given in Professor Shipman’s memory will continue her legacy of research and scholarship to improve the well being of children and families.