Marrett to receive doctorate

Published 5:55 pm Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A former Kenbridge resident is receiving an honorary doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-M), celebrating her extensive career in sociology, teaching and service as acting and deputy director of the National Science Foundation, according to a press release from the university.

Cora Bagley Elmira Marrett will receive the doctorate from UW-M during a ceremony May 2, where she currently teaches sociology as a professor emeritus.

Marrett, born in 1942, was raised in Kenbridge as the youngest of 12 children. Her parents only had a sixth-grade education.

Marrett’s extensive passion and work in sociology has taken her across the country.

Following her graduation from Lunenburg High School, Marrett received a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Union University, and a master’s and doctorate from UW-M in sociology.

Marrett remembers growing up with her siblings and parents, the late

Horace and Clorann Bagley.

She also remembers being curious as a child and pursuing her interests with her teachers, having all of her education up until high school graduation in Kenbridge. She attended then-Kenbridge Grade School until seventh grade, which later became Kenbridge Elementary School, and then attended Lunenburg Junior High, now Central High School.

The only regret she says is that the schools she attended did not have school laboratories for scientific research. She said she learned through books instead.

As a child, she did not consider a career in science, but had always wanted to go into education. She said when she became a sociology major in college, it redefined science for her.

“I later came to realize that my own interest in doing things systematically in the world of human behavior and social organization that they were analytical and scientific approaches”, Marrett said. “But, I had been raised as many people are, that I think of science as the study of life, the study of the physical universe.”

She has held faculty positions at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Western Michigan University and UW-M. Marrett has also been provost at University of Massachusetts — Amherst and senior vice president for academic affairs at the University of Wisconsin.

Between her leadership positions at universities, Marrett became an assistant director at the National Science Foundation between 1992-96 and led the newly formed Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, according to the release.
In 2007, she was hired once again as an National Science Foundation assistant director, which led to the job of acting director in 2010 and finally, deputy director in May 2011.

Through her roles in the universities, she specialized in African-American studies and directed the United Negro College Fund/Andrew Mellon Programs from 1990 until 1992, according to a release.
The release said Marrett has been regarded as a stellar teacher and mentor and was
recognized by the Wisconsin Alumni Association in 2012 with a Distinguished Alumni