Mary Margaret Kerr

A graduate of Duke University and American University, Mary Margaret Kerr is former Chair of Administrative and Policy Studies and currently holds a secondary appointment as Professor of Psychiatry. Also licensed as a superintendent, Dr. Kerr has worked in urban school districts throughout her academic career. In the Department of Psychiatry, Dr. Kerr initially directed school-based research and training programs. Taking a public service leave from the University, Dr. Kerr served Pittsburgh City Schools as Director of Pupil Services. In 1995, Dr. Kerr was appointed by the federal court in California to serve as Consent Decree Administrator for the Chanda Smith special education case in LAUSD, where she worked for nearly a decade to reform all special education services for over 82,000 students. Returning to the University, Dr. Kerr directed training services for the University’s youth suicide and violence prevention center, STAR-Center, which provides crisis response services, training, and policy consultation to school districts and agencies across Pennsylvania. In 2018, she released a nationally recognized book, School Crisis Prevention and Intervention.

Dr. Kerr is the recipient of the Jean Winsand Distinguished Woman in Education Award, the University of Pittsburgh Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award, the Provost's ACIE Award for Innovation in Education, and two Department of Psychiatry Teaching Awards.

Instructional Interests

In addition to teaching behavioral assessment and intervention (PSYED 2524), Dr. Kerr teaches school law, safety, and mental health-related courses for educational leaders (ADMPS 3114, ADMPS 2101, ADMPS 2024, ADMPS 2405 ) in the Teaching, Learning, & Leading Department.

Scholarly Interests

Dr. Kerr’s internationally recognized research team, which includes youth as researchers, studies the experiences of young tourists at difficult heritage sites, including two 9/11 memorials. In addition to contributing her expertise on youth coping with mass trauma, Dr. Kerr has pioneered research in child-centered research methods for the tourism field, which historically has overlooked children and youth. Her team’s work will appear in the forthcoming research handbook: Kerr, M.M., Stone, P. S., & Price, R. Children, Young People, and Dark Tourism (Routledge).

Selected Grants

  • Kerr, M. M. (2017-2018). National Science Foundation I-Corps Site Program grant for technology innovation.

  • Finalist, Goldman Prize for Entrepreneurship in Education ($10,000)

  • Kerr, M. M. (PI) 2015-2016 Award for Innovation in Education, for technology innovation ($7304)

  • Kerr, M. M. 2015-2016 National Science Foundation I-Corps Site Program for technology innovation ($3000)

  • Kerr, M. M. (PI) 2015-2016 Anonymous Foundation, for technology innovation ($3000)

Featured Publications

  • Keller, D. E., & Kerr, M. M. (2021). Teaching a First-Year Research Experience through Archived Oral Histories. College Teaching, 1-9.
  • Kerr, M.M., Stone, P. R., & Price, R. (forthcoming). Children, young people, and dark tourism. Abingdon, UK : Routledge
  • Kerr, M. M. and King, G. (2018). School crisis prevention and intervention, 2nd Edition. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Publishing, Inc.
  • Kerr, M. M., Stone, P. R., & Price, R. H. (2021). Young tourists’ experiences at dark tourism sites: Toward a conceptual framework. Tourist Studies.
  • Valenti, M. W., Kerr, M. M., & King, G. (in press). Evidence informed suicide prevention in schools. In C. Massat, R. Constable, & M. Kelly (Eds.). School Social Work, 9th Edition. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Kerr, M. M., Fried, S. E., Price, R. H., Cornick, C., & Dugan, S. E. (2017). Rural children’s responses to the Flight 93 crash on September 11, 2001. Journal of Rural Mental Health, 41(3), 176-188.
  • Kerr, M. M., & Price, R. H. (2016). Overlooked encounters: Young tourists' experiences at dark sites. Journal of Heritage Tourism, 11(2) 177-185.

Awards and Honors

  • Visiting Professor, Cleveland Clinic Department of Psychiatry, 2018

  • Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award, University of Pittsburgh, 2010

  • Jean Winsand Award for Distinguished Woman Educator, Tri-State Area Study Council, 2010

Engagement, Partnerships, and Professional Service Exceeding 2.5 million hits, our public service website offers 300+ resources: handbooks, teacher helpdesk, narrated slide presentations, and guides to help school staff support students who have emotional and behavioral challenges. Families can also find information to help understand behavioral health challenges, including stories and travel guides. is the work of an interdisciplinary team of volunteers and graduate students. We created resources for adults to use while caring for young victims displaced and/or distressed by traumatic events, such as natural disasters or school violence. We are especially concerned about children with disabilities, whose needs often go unnoticed.

Mary Margaret Kerr


University of Pittsburgh
5120 Wesley W. Posvar Hall
230 South Bouquet Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

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