Top 10 Most Influential Special Education Professors
Individuals who work in special education programs seem to have a passion for helping others and in creating environments that foster that desire. To that end, this list of the top 10 most influential special education professors represents just a handful of people with doctoral degrees who teach special education. They all currently strive to improve the quality of life for gifted and disabled people through their research and efforts. Their spheres of influence may be local, regional or national, but — in all cases — they exhibit a drive and joy in their research focuses and in their abilities to lead and teach others to do the same.
The individuals listed below are arranged in alphabetical order by surname to show that we do not favor one individual over another.
- Dr. Brent A. Askvig is the Executive Director of North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities (NDCPD) and is a professor of special education at Minot State University. In 2009, NDCPD at was awarded an exclusive contract with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to promote the utilization of the telemedicine network as it relates to early hearing detection with newborns. Dr. Askvig has been the lead author and principal investigator on numerous state and federal grant and contracts totaling nearly $20 million. Dr. Askvig also serves as a consultant to ND Department of Public Instruction.
- Malachy Bishop, PhD, CRC, is a professor in the Rehabilitation Counseling program at the University of Kentucky (UK). He conducts research primarily in the areas of quality of life, adaptation to disability, and the psychosocial aspects of living with chronic neurological conditions including multiple sclerosis, brain injury, and epilepsy. Dr. Bishop has received the American Rehabilitation Counseling Association’s Research Award four times and was the 2005 recipient of the National Council on Rehabilitation Education’s New Career Award. He has authored over 50 peer-reviewed articles, 13 book chapters, and an edited book.
- Janet Gaffney, BA, MEd, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Special Education with affiliate appointments in the Departments of Educational Psychology and Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), is a past recipient of the Alan C. Purves Research Award of the National Council for Teachers in English and was appointed an Associate in the Center for Advanced Study at the University. She was also the recipient of the 2006 College of Education’s Graduate Teaching Award and the 2007 University’s Distinguished Graduate and Professional Teaching Award.
- Dr. Ann P. Kaiser is professor of special education, Susan Gray Chair in Education and Human Development and professor of psychology at Peabody College, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, Vanderbilt University. Her research areas include early intervention, language intervention and acquisition, environmental designs for dependent populations and policy. Dr. Kaiser serves as the principal investigator for the research and demonstration grants at KidTalk. She has received numerous awards for her research and mentoring including the Harvey Branscomb Distinguished Professorship at Vanderbilt University.
- Dr. Frances A. Karnes, a professor in the Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education and Director of the Frances A. Karnes Center for Gifted Studies at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM), is responsible for initiating gifted education in Mississippi. She is the recipient of many awards based upon her leadership and research into legal issues that arise as parents, educators and other advocates seek appropriate educational opportunities for gifted and talented children. One of those awards was the Award for Excellence from the Mississippi Association for Gifted Children in 2003.
- Dr. Frank Lane is the head of the Division of Rehabilitation Counseling Psychology program at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). He also serves as President of the American Rehabilitation Counseling Association (ARCA), is a member of the board of directors for the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) and serves as an editorial board member for the Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin and the Australian Journal of Rehabilitation Counseling. Dr. Lane has 6 years of experience teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in rehabilitation and psychology.
- James McLeskey, AB, MEd, PhD, director of the College of Education’s new Center for Disability Policy and Practice at the University of Florida (UF), earned the prestigious 2010 TED/Merrill Award for Excellence in Teacher Education, awarded by the Council for Exceptional Children. Under his direction, the department’s grant funding and national ranking soared. UF’s special education program perennially leads all college departments and programs in research funding and currently ranks fifth in its specialty in the U.S. News & World Report rankings of America’s Best Graduate Schools.
- Dr. David McNaughton, professor of special education at Penn State, received the 2010 Outstanding Researcher Award in the College of Education. McNaughton is a leader within the field of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) for individuals with severe disabilities. His research interests also include supports to employment for individuals with severe disabilities. He has an extensive list of publications and has successfully obtained over $5.1 million in external funding to support his research and graduate training programs, including a current role as co-investigator for the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Consortium (RERC) in Augmentative and Alternative Communication, National Institute on Disability Rehabilitation and Research, U.S. Department of Education.
- Dr. Mickey Pardew, a full professor in special education at Western Oregon University (WOU), recently was named to the newly created Oregon Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Dr. Pardew’s areas of expertise include early intervention/special education partnerships, teaching individuals with low incidence disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorders. She also is a board member of the Northwest Autism Foundation, Polk Adolescent Day Treatment Center and the George E. Miller Children’s Foundation, a grassroots organization that serves children with special needs, their families and communities.
- Dr. Randall Parker is the Melissa Elizabeth Stuart Centennial Professor of Education, a Professor of Special Education, and the Director of Rehabilitation Counselor Education at the Department of Special Education, The University of Texas at Austin. His research interests include factors affecting adjustment to disability, assessment of aptitudes and interests, methodological issues in data analysis, and the reliability and validity of self-estimates. Dr. Parker has accumulated many awards and fellowships and sits as chair on at least three committees.
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