Preparing Educators as Leaders

Research center joining Life Span Institute

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

LAWRENCE — Two prominent and successful University of Kansas research centers with complementary missions are about to join forces.

The Center for Research on Learning (CRL) will become part of the Life Span Institute (LSI) on July 1. As one of 13 centers under the LSI umbrella organization, CRL will retain its identity and continue its mission of “solving the problems that limit individuals’ quality of life and their ability to learn and perform in school, work, home, or the community.” Researchers affiliated with CRL focus on basic and applied research and advocacy involving disabilities, instructional practices, practitioner training and the development of teaching materials and technologies.

Mike Hock, associate director of CRL, has been named interim director of CRL. He will report to John Colombo, director of LSI. Hock has been at KU since 1990 as an associate research scientist. He succeeds Don Deshler, the Williamson Family Distinguished Professor of Special Education. Deshler came to KU in 1974 and has been director of CRL since 1978. He will resume his faculty role this fall. Kathleen Lane, professor of special education and co-director of CRL for the past year, will also resume her faculty role this fall.

Currently, both LSI and CRL report to the KU Office of Research, along with such organizations as the Hall Center for the Humanities, the Higuchi Biosciences Center and the Biodiversity Institute. As of July 1, CRL will report directly to LSI.

“The valuable research taking place at CRL complements LSI’s strengths in human health and development,” said Rodolfo Torres, associate vice chancellor for research. He noted that faculty in KU’s top-rated Department of Special Education already conduct research under the auspices of CRL and LSI. “It makes sense to bring these centers together, and I am looking forward to the synergy that will be created. With the growing uncertainties of federal funding for research, streamlining administrative structures – while ensuring researchers have the resources they need – is also vitally important.”

LSI, also known as the Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies, is the oldest KU research center and, with the addition of CRL, will be the largest in terms of annual research expenditures. Its existing research centers include the Beach Center on Disability, the Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, and the Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training. CRL will have a status equivalent with the existing LSI centers.


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#1 public program in nation for special education
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$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
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44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
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