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Department of Special Education appoints new chair, effective Summer 2017

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

LAWRENCE – Rick Ginsberg, dean of the School of Education at the University of Kansas, has announced a change in leadership within the Department of Special Education.

Effective July 1, Michael Wehmeyer, Ross and Marianna Beach Distinguished Professor of Special Education, will become the new chair of the Department of Special Education.

“The School is lucky to have a scholar and leader of Mike’s abilities who is willing to accept the department chair position,” said Ginsberg. “He brings a wealth of forward-thinking ideas that will build on the department’s great strengths and help move them to new heights.”

Elizabeth B. Kozleski, current chair of the Department of Special Education, will step down from the position in summer 2017. Kozleski will continue to teach and mentor doctoral students as well as lead her current grant-funded projects. Kozleski was hired as chair of the department in 2012 and came to Lawrence from Arizona State University, where she served as a professor of culture, society, and education in the School of Social Transformation.    

“Leading the Department of Special Education has been a privilege that I will always treasure. KU is one of a handful of remarkable universities in the Midwest that continues to provide outstanding education opportunities to generations of new students,” said Kozleski. “This is a great time to turn the department over to its next steward and leader.” 

Since 2012, the department faculty have redesigned the doctoral program in special education; developed multiple Master’s degree and graduate certificate programs in a fully online delivery format; and produced a range of research that continues to address substantive issues in special education. 

Wehmeyer currently serves as a distinguished professor of special education for the Department of Special Education in addition to his director role at the Beach Center on Disability. He was hired at KU in 1999 as a courtesy associate professor. He is the author or co-author of more than 370 peer-reviewed journal articles or book chapters on disability and education related issues.

In addition to his scholarly accomplishments, Wehmeyer is also active in various professional organizations. He is a past-president and fellow of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities; a past-president of the Council for Exceptional Children’s Division on Career Development and Transition; a fellow of the American Psychological Association, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Division (Div. 33); and a fellow of the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

“We have accomplished tremendous things as a department over the last five years under Elizabeth’s leadership and have positioned ourselves for even greater achievements in the future,” said Wehmeyer. “I look forward to carrying the momentum of the department forward.”

The top-ranked Department of Special Education is housed in the KU School of Education. The School of Education is located in Lawrence, Kan. and is also a nationally-ranked school, preparing educators as leaders.    



10th among public universities for its master’s and doctoral programs
—U.S. News & World Report
#1 public program in nation for special education
—U.S. News & World Report
Assists public schools and other partners in all 105 Kansas counties
$938,377 in scholarship funds awarded to 420+ students
Research expenditures of $36,804,773 for 2011-12
Research from KU’s largest grant, the $24.5 million SWIFT project, assists educators, children, and families across the United States
The award-winning special education faculty published 140 refereed articles, 11 books, and 60 chapters in 2015-16
Students with intellectual disabilities are participating in KU undergraduate programs through a grant-funded KU special education program
Researchers on a $3.5 million grant are collecting data on an innovative reading program designed to teach reading to students with the most significant disabilities in seven Kansas school districts
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
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