Photo of campus building in Fall.

Lasting Lessons

Montclair State graduates remember favorite professors who were teachers and mentors, and whose wisdom has stayed with them throughout the years.

Gerard Costa

Former Director, Center for Autism and Early Childhood Mental Health

From 2011 through his retirement at the end of 2021, Gerard “Gerry” Costa took Montclair’s groundbreaking Center for Autism and Early Childhood Mental Health from a founding staff of three to an influential statewide and national beacon of research and knowledge in infant, toddler and early childhood development with a team of more than 70. Corinne Catalano ’95 MEd, ’18 PhD, assistant director for Consultation Services at the Center, met Costa in 1999 while pursuing a certificate in Infant Mental Health.

“He has been my mentor, teacher and dear friend ever since. He taught me to wonder about the inner lives of infants, children and families. He taught me about the power of relationships and the need to foster trust before trying any other intervention. Gerry brought these lessons to Montclair State and shared them with others throughout New Jersey.”

Colette Ryan met Costa at a conference where he asked her to join the University’s Infant Mental Health fellowship program. “Gerry has the wonderful ability to make everyone want to be better, do better and serve others better,” says Ryan, who is now pursuing a doctorate in Infant and Early Childhood Development.

“There are so many impressive things about Gerry but what stands out is his ability to talk to everyone,” says Lorri Sullivan, assistant director for Curriculum and Training at the Center, who worked with Costa since the early 1990s, when they met on the job at the Center for Family Resources in Ringwood, New Jersey. “He thinks about parents, caregivers, children – and he always makes a definite point to talk about infants. To Gerry’s credit, in our state, anyone who is working with infants, toddlers and young children, probably has learned from Gerry in some capacity.”