Start Early. Start well.

Samuel J. Meisels, Ed.D.

Founding Executive Director


Dr. Samuel J. Meisels is the founding executive director of the Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska. He is also professor of child, youth, and family studies at the University of Nebraska ΜΆ Lincoln, and holds courtesy appointments as professor of public health (College of Public Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center), education (College of Education, University of Nebraska at Kearney), and public administration (College of Public Affairs, University of Nebraska Omaha). 

A former preschool, Kindergarten, and first grade teacher, Dr. Meisels was senior advisor in early childhood development for the Developmental Evaluation Clinic of Boston Children’s Hospital. Prior to that appointment, Dr. Meisels was a professor in the Department of Child Study at Tufts University and director of the Eliot-Pearson Children's School. For 21 years, he was a faculty member at the University of Michigan’s School of Education and the Center for Human Growth and Development, where he is now professor and research scientist emeritus. In 2002, Dr. Meisels became the president of Erikson Institute, the nation’s leading graduate school in child development.

During 11-plus years that Dr. Meisels led Erikson, the Institute made major commitments to applied research for the Chicago Public Schools, expanded clinical programs for children and families, added community-based interventions for children from birth through age 8, initiated online and in person professional development programs for PreK through Grade 3 throughout the Midwest, and built a new campus in Chicago. When Dr. Meisels left to start the Buffett Institute in June 2013, he was named president emeritus at Erikson.

A leading authority on the assessment of young children, Dr. Meisels has published nearly 200 research articles, books, monographs, and assessments, and is co-author of the Work Sampling System, the Early Screening Inventory, and the Ounce Scale. He is also co-editor of The Handbook of Early Childhood Intervention. 

Dr. Meisels graduated magna cum laude from the University of Rochester and received master’s and doctoral degrees from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He holds an honorary doctor of humane letters from Roosevelt University in Chicago.

Research Interests

  • Development of alternative assessment strategies for young children
  • Impact of high-stakes testing on children and teachers
  • Developmental screening in early childhood
Scroll to top