James P. Comer


Distinguished Alumni Service Award (1992)
B.A., 1956
Honorary Degree (1991)
Doctor of Science
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: Thomas Ehrlich
College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award (1989)
Indiana University Bloomington
B.A., 1956


James P. Comer, M.D., director of the Yale University Child Study Center and associate dean of the Yale School of Medicine, is a leading scholar in minority child development and an influential practitioner in child psychiatry. He has brought his impressive knowledge of human development to the task of designing creative educational environments in which young children can achieve their full potential.

Dr. Comer was born in East Chicago, Indiana. He studied at Indiana University's Gary and Bloomington campuses, earning the B.A. degree in 1956. He received the M.D. from Howard University in 1960 and the M.P.H. from the University of Michigan in 1964. Following service at St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago, Howard University Medical School, the United States Public Health Service, and the National Institute of Mental Health, he joined the faculty of the Yale University School of Medicine in 1968 as assistant professor of psychiatry and codirector of the Baldwin-King School Program. He became director of the Yale University Child Study Center in 1973 and was named the Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry in 1976.

Dr. Comer was among the first to analyze the unique difficulties of growing up as an African American in the United States. He is widely recognized as a pioneer in the application of the principles of psychiatry and the behavioral sciences to the problems of inner-city education. Working with children, parents, teachers, and administrators, he has developed programs that provide for dramatic improvement in the educational achievements of children in inner-city schools. These programs have had significant impact on education reform and practice across the United States and abroad.

James Comer is the author of four books and more than a hundred articles and book chapters. He is the recipient of numerous honors, including IU's Neal-Marshall Alumnus of the Year Award, the Children's Defense Fund Outstanding Leadership Award, the Agnes Purcell McGavin Award of the American Psychiatric Association, and four honorary degrees.