Marian F. Earls, M.D., '76
The Earls family name is legendary at Holy Cross, dating back to the end of the 19th century when young Michael Earls, the eldest son of Irish immigrants who settled in nearby Southbridge arrived on campus. His writing and faith life blossomed: he became a poet, Jesuit priest, an influential teacher and a dynamic administrator who helped shape the College in the 1920s and 1930s.
His great-niece stands before us, a pioneer in her own right whose path has shaped the lives of countless children and their families.
Marian Earls came to Mount St. James as a member of the historic Class of 1976, which included the first women to spend four years as Holy Cross students. She was a biology major and, with the late Professor Banadakappa Lingappa, conducted microbiologic research under a National Science Foundation grant. After graduation, she studied at Harvard Divinity School, where she earned a master's degree in theological studies, and then entered the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
She undertook her residency in pediatrics at the Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro, North Carolina, where she found her calling and her home. For the past 22 years, this pediatrician has spearheaded efforts to recognize the complex developmental and social-emotional challenges faced by young children and their families-using her intellect, caring and passion to assess what services and advocacy are lacking, and working collaboratively with colleagues across multiple disciplines to address critical needs. Her groundbreaking studies have been widely published and have documented, translated and expanded knowledge about best practices in the emerging subspecialty of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics to a national audience and via the American Academy of Pediatrics and its state chapter.
As her nominator Dr. Michael Reichel of the Class of 1968 wrote: "The arc of Dr. Earls' career and ongoing contributions in community and general pediatrics have been truly spectacular, grounded in spiritual strength and purposeful commitment which clearly reflect the Jesuit ideals of men and women for others."
Currently medical director of Guilford Child Health and clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina, Marian has added another important chapter to the Earls family history at Holy Cross: she is the mother of Naomi Earls Leslie, Class of 2000, making them the first mother-daughter graduates of the College. Marian is mentor to countless medical students and physicians, including Naomi, who followed her mother's path to medical school and is now a child psychiatrist.
For setting new standards in the care and advocacy for children and families, for teaching and mentoring young physicians, and combining great faith with service and justice, the College of the Holy Cross presents to Marian F. Earls the Sanctae Crucis Award.