The university said in a statement that Zigler, known as the “Father of Head Start,” died in his sleep Thursday in North Haven.
Yale called Zigler a pioneer in the application of developmental psychology to social policy. After President Lyndon Johnson declared a war on poverty, Zigler and othes founded the child development program that has served more than 32 million children since 1965.
Zigler was raised in Kansas City, Missouri, and became an assistant psychology professor at Yale in 1959.
Services for Zigler will be private. Yale is planning events to honor him in the spring.