Patrick Tolan Receives Lifetime Achievement Award from SPR

2018 Presidential Award

Patrick Tolan, Director Emeritus of the Youth-Nex Center and Charles S. Robb Professor in the Curry School of Education, was selected to receive the 2018 Presidential Award, a lifetime achievement award, by the Society for Prevention Research (SPR). The honor is peer-nominated and recognizes those who have made a major specific contribution to prevention science research and whose work has greatly impacted the field.

“To be recognized by your peers with an award is always an honor,” said Tolan. “This recognition stands out for me because SPR has been my intellectual home for 25 years and it’s a place where I have learned so much from others. To have this organization and these scientists I hold in such esteem consider me worthy of this lifetime contributions award is most appreciated.”

Tolan's distinguished career includes 34 years of research on youth development, focused on promoting effective development, preventing problems, and understanding and affecting youth violence. He has authored more than 200 scientific papers and has received several awards for his devotion to child advocacy and policy and for his contributions to understanding youth violence.

“It is a great credit that Patrick has combined the very best science with influence on policy and applications,” said Bob Pianta, dean of the University of Virginia Curry School of Education. “Patrick’s career has been devoted to understanding and addressing the needs of vulnerable children and youth, and his commitment to strengthening communities, families, and programs serving youth is unparalleled. Very few world class scholars have had such widespread influence beyond the academy. We are delighted that he has received such well-deserved recognition.”

Nancy Deutsch, who recently succeeded Tolan as the Youth-Nex Center’s director, says he has been on the forefront of bringing a positive youth development lens into the field of prevention science. 

“His creative thinking about and application of both theory and methods has pushed the field forward and provided practitioners and policy makers with important new knowledge about prevention approaches with children and families,” said Deutsch. 

Tolan currently leads the research on an $11.75 million Compassionate Schools Project, one of the largest school intervention studies and group randomized trials, spanning over 7 years. This unique project tests a curriculum to bring “21st century health and wellness skills” to elementary school children to face the health and personal and social demands of the coming world with the intent to improve behavior, achievement, readiness for responsible and engaged citizenship, and contribution of this next generation.

In addition to his scholarship, Tolan has taken an interest in mentoring students and scholars throughout his career. What impresses me most,” said Deutsch, about Dr. Tolan is that he has demonstrated incredible intellectual openness in his work, something that is reflected in the theoretical and methodological sophistication of his scholarship as well as his mentoring. Indeed, Dr. Tolan ‘pays it forward,’ serving as a mentor to those of us in the field who are following in his footsteps and helping support and train the next generation of scientists. As Director of Youth-Nex, he supported a diverse array of multi-disciplinary and multi-method scholars, including myself, helping build the field by supporting junior scholars from myriad theoretical and methodological backgrounds with a shared goal of improving the lives of children.”

Patrick H. Tolan is the Charles S. Robb Professor of Education at the University of Virginia in the Curry School of Education and in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences in the School of Medicine.