School & District Management

Remembering Larry McQuillan, Bridging Research and Journalism

By Sarah D. Sparks — September 21, 2015 1 min read
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Larry McQuillan, the public affairs director for the American Institutes for Research for more than a decade and a White House reporter for a quarter of a century before that, passed away this weekend after a long fight with cancer. He was 70.

Originally from Stratford, Conn., he was a fixture in the White House press corps from Jimmy Carter through Bill Clinton, and was well-known for his quick grin and impeccable dress. “Larry’s gifts and principles were always in sync,” said Kathleen Courrier, his superviser at AIR. “He could be merry and self-effacing but was also uncompromising about getting the facts and fine points straight from the get-go. He was a credit to the whole journalism profession.”

It’s rare that a sharp national political reporter would become such a strong spokesman for research. Larry could talk about education research with both understanding and enthusiasm, and he never blinked at a question, no matter how basic or complex.

In addition to his work at AIR, he chaired the communications committee for the American Educational Research Association. “Larry’s deep knowledge of the research, keen news sense, and warm and approachable personality helped to elevate media coverage and public awareness of education scholarship,” said Felice Levine, AERA’s executive director. “He was a giant in the field and will be dearly missed.”

Tracy Gray, an education researcher at AIR, said McQuillan always kept his door open to researchers dealing with the media. “Larry demonstrated a unique blend of integrity in the pursuit of excellence, coupled with an ability to capture the absurd,” Gray said. “He was our North Star who showed us how to take the high road while keeping a twinkle in those blue eyes. To know him was to love him.”

McQuillan is survived by his wife, Geraldine, son, Sean, and two granddaughters.

Photo: Larry McQuillan Source: AIR

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.