Start Early. Start well.

Endowed Community Chairs

The Buffett Institute is establishing Community Chairs on the four University of Nebraska campuses. Each of these endowed professorships focuses on different aspects of early childhood development and reflects the interdisciplinary commitment of the Buffett Institute. The Community Chair represents a new role for faculty that goes well beyond teaching, research, and service to include campus leadership and responsiveness to the local community through translational and applied research.
Marisa Macy

Marisa Macy
Community Chair in Early Childhood Education, University of Nebraska at Kearney

Marisa Macy is an associate professor in the College of Education. She holds the Cille and Ron Williams Chair of Early Childhood Education and in 2022 added the title of Buffett Early Childhood Institute Community Chair, focusing on early childhood education.

Macy has more than 25 years of experience as an educator. She started her career as a special education teacher in Washington, and she has served in teaching and research roles at a number of higher education institutions, including the University of Oregon, Penn State University, and the University of Texas, El Paso. Before coming to Nebraska, she was a lecturer in the School of Teacher Education at the University of Central Florida and was principal investigator for statewide early childhood special education training and technical assistance for the Florida Department of Education.

Macy, a Seattle native, earned a bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Washington and a post baccalaureate in K–12 special education from St. Martin’s College in Olympia, Washington. She received master’s and doctoral degrees in special education with early childhood special education and early intervention from the University of Oregon. Macy also completed the Certificate in Early Education Leadership from the Graduate School of Education at Harvard. 

Julia Torquati, Community Chair in Infant and Child Mental Health, UNL

Julia Torquati
Community Chair in Infant and Child Mental Health, University of Nebraska ΜΆ Lincoln

Julia Torquati is a professor in the Department of Child, Youth and Family Studies (CYAF) in the College of Education and Human Sciences. As the inaugural recipient of the Community Chair in Infant and Child Mental Health, she will contribute expertise in the areas of infant and child mental health and socio-emotional development. As chair, she also will help educate families and other care providers to support mental and emotional development in young children.

Torquati is an award-winning faculty member with 25 years of experience in child development, child care, and nature-based environmental education. Her work integrates mental health into the full ecological system of very young children including their families, caregivers, teachers, and communities. Torquati has written a number of publications related to temperament, self-regulation, caregiving, peer relationships, adult-child relationships, and executive functioning. She holds her Ph.D. and M.S. from the University of Arizona and her B.A. from Marquette University.

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