Post to remember Leslie Rescorla
Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff

On Monday, October 12, 2020, our field lost an exceptional figure – Dr. Leslie Rescorla.

A scientist, mentor and clinician, Leslie did outstanding work to help us all understand the phenomenon of toddler language delay.  Her impeccable research and clinical eye resulted in over 150 published papers and talks around the globe.  Beyond statistics, though, Leslie will always be remembered for her kindness and her air of dignity.  She always made time to talk to a student as an equal, to help a colleague think through a problem, and to find ways to bridge what happened in the office with what was happening on the ground.   She was a visionary who worked to use her scientific acumen to continuously inform the Thorne School on Bryn Mawr’s campus and she was an overall great citizen for the school, Bryn Mawr College and our community.

Her husband and our colleague Tom Achenbach wrote the following which we share.  She will be sorely missed.

Rescorla, Leslie Altman, Ph.D. October 12, 2020. Dr. Rescorla was born August 15, 1945, in Washington, D.C., to Alberta (Smith) Altman and Oscar Altman, Ph.D. She earned her Bachelor’s degree magna cum laude at Harvard, her Master’s degree at the London School of Economics, and her Ph.D. in Psychology at Yale. She taught at the University of Pennsylvania and advanced from Assistant Professor to an endowed Full Professorship at Bryn Mawr College, where she was Chair of the Psychology Department, Director of the Ph.D. Program in Psychology, Director of the Child Study Institute, and Director of the Thorne Preschool Programs. She supervised over three dozen Ph.D. dissertations. Her hundreds of students are extremely grateful for her personal support, as well as for the superb training that she provided. Dr. Rescorla was awarded many honors by Bryn Mawr College and by her fellow psychologists and language development scientists. Dr. Rescorla was married to the late Robert Rescorla, Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, with whom she had sons Eric, who is an executive at Mozilla, and Michael, who is Professor of Philosophy at UCLA. She contributed greatly to the development of her grandsons Darwin, Lincoln, Alex, and Nicky. She leaves siblings Peter Altman, Oren Jacoby, Tamar Jacoby, and William Furness Altman. In 2000, Dr. Rescorla married Thomas Achenbach, Professor of Psychiatry and Psychological Science at the University of Vermont, with whom she shared many fun projects, travels, and adventures. Dr. Rescorla gave invited presentations in dozens of countries around the world, as well as authoring numerous books and hundreds of other publications. She will be long remembered for her incredible energy, luminescent spirit, creativity, and intellectual brilliance. Dr. Rescorla’s husband, Thomas Achenbach, expresses his deep gratitude to Anne Emerson, Leslie’s sister-in-law, for her heroic care of Leslie and to all others who cared for Leslie during her final battle with sarcoma. In lieu of flowers, please send contributions in Dr. Rescorla’s memory to worthy charities or to pro-democracy political candidates.

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