Jean E. Lokerson’s interest in education began at an early age, when she would teach her triplet younger siblings in a makeshift classroom in the family’s basement. She went on to spend more than 50 years in the field, and is now leaving a legacy to support other aspiring educators.

Lokerson Ph.D. ’70 bequeathed a $1.75 million estate gift to provide merit- and need-based student scholarships in the College of Education. The John T. and Dorothy E. Lokerson Endowed Scholarship in Education, named in honor of Lokerson’s parents who encouraged her to pursue a career in education, goes toward tuition and fees equivalent to two years of full-time upper-level undergraduate or graduate study.Jean E. Lokerson

“This remarkable gift will help students excel in their academic pursuits and ensure that the college can attract the most talented students,” said Jennifer King Rice, dean of the College of Education. “Dr. Lokerson’s passion for the field of education and for teaching teachers is reflected in this endowed scholarship, which will help transform students’ experiences and enhance our research and instruction through the contributions of the best and brightest students.”

The gift supports Fearless Ideas: The Campaign for Maryland, UMD’s $1.5 billion fundraising campaign focused on advancing the university’s mission of service, enhancing academic distinction and bolstering UMD’s research enterprise.

After receiving an undergraduate degree in elementary education from the George Washington University in 1959, Lokerson taught elementary education in Montgomery County, Md., before pursuing a master’s degree in special education from Syracuse University. She completed her doctorate in special education from UMD with a minor in human development.

“Jean valued her education at the University of Maryland, her professors and the many opportunities it provided her, which helped shape her career,” said Elise Blankenship, a longtime friend and colleague of Lokerson.

A pioneer in the emerging field of special education, Lokerson was dedicated to understanding and addressing the challenges of having a disability. She helped prepare special education teachers for the classroom at a number of institutions. In addition to receiving numerous professional honors, she was recognized for her innovative use of simulations, technology and hands-on experiences in teaching special education. She was a professor emerita at Virginia Commonwealth University when she died in 2016 at age 79.

“Jean found great joy in teaching special education students and as a ‘teacher of teachers,’ through her role as a professor in the university setting,” Blankenship said. “It is a fitting reflection of her legacy that her generous gift to the university will help prepare the next generation of educators for excellence.”