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Former Provost, VP and Professor Emerita Edna Ward ‘55 Remembered

Edna Ward ’55, professor emerita, former provost and vice president of Academic Affairs at Emerson College, whose greatest joy was teaching her students, died Saturday, November 18.

Ward, who graduated valedictorian of her class at Emerson, practiced as a speech therapist before joining the faculty in 1959 as a lecturer in education. During her time at the College, she served in a variety of administrative roles at Emerson, including provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. She retired from Emerson College in 1991 as professor emerita after 32 years, having made many contributions to the College.

Ward, who was raised in Quincy, loved education and teaching. She once said in a 1970 Berkeley Beacon profile article that “teaching is the most important form of communications I know.”

Former Emerson College President Jackie Liebergott remembered Ward as a pioneer in women’s studies.

“Edna was a fabulous teacher and a strong supporter of her students.  She reached out to women across the campus,” said Liebergott, recalling that she, Ward and then-Director of Counseling Phyllis Bowman worked on the College’s first women’s studies course.

Ward helped teach that course, which was called The Education and Socialization of Women.

An active supporter of both civil rights and the women's movement, Ward was also the first woman to sit on the Coast Guard Academy Advisory Committee in 1977 and served as an administrator for Emerson’s National Center for Women in the Performing Arts in the 1980s.

As an academic she was known as an expert in the field of causal thinking, based on the work of Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget.

She received many awards during her time at Emerson, including the Alumni Achievement Award in 1987.

Ward received a master's degree from Tufts University, and a doctorate from Boston College.

She leaves her partner and spouse, Dr. Ann Briley, who loved and cared for her for many years. She also leaves her sister, two nieces, one nephew, and a grandnephew.

Services will be private. For online guestbook, visit, George F. Doherty & Sons Wellesley.

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