Dr. Roger Farr was an Emeritus Chancellor’s Professor of Education at Indiana University, and during his more than 30 years in higher education he held esteemed positions with the field of reading research and instruction including President of the International Reading Association, Director of the Center of Innovation in Assessment at IU, and Co-Editor of Reading Research Quarterly. Dr. Farr was the co-author of Harcourt School Publishers’ K-8 basal reading program Signatures and Treasury of Literature, Steck-Vaughn’s Think Along: Comprehending as You Read series, Harcourt’s Power Up: Building Reading Strength, and Rally Education’s Think Reading. Farr authored or edited both standardized tests and performance assessments including Rigby Reads, the SSSMART, the Iowa Silent Reading Tests, the Metropolitan Achievement Tests, and the Language Arts Performance Assessments. Roger served as a consultant to the National Assessment of Educational Progress as well. Farr was the author or co-author of countless articles, books, and monographs for the profession.
It was in 1984 that the International Reading Association honored Farr with the William S. Gray Citation for lifetime contributions to the teaching of reading. He was elected to the Reading Hall of Fame in 1986. In 1988 IRA named him Outstanding Teacher Educator.
Throughout his long career Dr. Farr taught students from pre-kindergarten through graduate school. He earned the Ed.D. in Reading and Educational Psychology from the State University of New York.
In Memory of My Dear Friend, Colleague, and Mentor, Roger Farr
I met Roger as a doctoral student at Indiana University in the early 1990’s. He was a professor of mine, and I remember my first impression was that he was larger than life. Even in his own classroom, week after week, he had this boundless energy and wonderful sense of humor.
Within a year or two after starting graduate school, Roger hired me to work at his research center. It was a center that Roger had taken over from someone else, and while I don’t remember its original name, I do remember that Roger wanted to – and did -- change its name. He came up with the “Center for Innovation in Assessment,” which he chose, in part, because it allowed us all to say that we worked for the CIA, which we all thought was wonderfully clever!
It was in Roger’s employment at the CIA (where I worked for many years, even full-time upon completing my doctorate), where I learned so much of what I have carried with me, relied on, and valued throughout my career. Yes, I learned a great deal about literacy, assessment, academic research, grant writing, etc. But perhaps more importantly, I watched Roger bring an energy, passion, and almost childlike pleasure to both the workplace and to his work that I admired enormously and have worked to emulate throughout my career.
I continued to work with Roger on projects until a few years before he died. He never lost that energy and passion that he had when I met him twenty-five years ago. He never lost his sarcastic wit or his ability to make a room full of people laugh until it hurt. And he never stopped caring about the people he met along the journey.
When I knew it was time for me to leave Indiana University and the CIA many, many years ago and I had accepted a position at another university, I remember how concerned I was about telling Roger I would be leaving. Who would finish the work that I was doing at the CIA? Roger, I remember, very gently but honestly told me that everyone is replaceable. That was an important lesson for me and one I’ve reminded myself of on several occasions over the years, as I’ve left jobs, but also as I have had employees leave positions that I have needed to fill. It’s funny, though, that now as I reflect on Roger’s life, I think he may have been wrong. Everyone is notreplaceable, because I can assure you, Roger, that you, my friend, are irreplaceable and I will miss you so very much.
Jennifer Conner, Ph.D.
Division Head, Division of Education
Associate Professor of Literacy, Culture, and Language Education
Indiana University-Purdue University of Columbus (IUPUC)