Special education professor receives TED/Merrill Award

A lifetime of research productivity, masterly teaching and inspirational leadership has earned UF special education professor James McLeskey the prestigious 2010 TED/Merrill Award for Excellence in Teacher Education, awarded by the Council for Exceptional Children.

McLeskey, director of the College of Education’s new Center for Disability Policy and Practice, was the college’s chairman of special education for 10 years through 2008. 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.

McLeskey is the third UF special education faculty member to receive the award. Previous recipients were Paul Sindelar in 2001 and Vivian Correa in 2006.

McLeskey’s passion for education has left a strong impression on his students.

“I always felt part of a community,” said Melissa Miller, who earned her doctorate degree in 2007 studying under McLeskey. “It was more like a family with James as the proud papa. Students were always included in festivities and meetings.”

McLeskey has conducted extensive research on how schools generate and implement inclusive programs for students with disabilities, and he has contributed a substantial amount of research and service to the field of education, having published over 70 research articles and book chapters, and five books.

“The value and potential impact of his research is considerable, since many school districts still struggle with the issue of providing relevant services and instruction to students with disabilities in a high pressure accountability environment,” said UF Education Dean Catherine Emihovich.

The Council for Exceptional Children is the largest international professional organization in the special education field, with nearly 45,000 members.

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Writer: Jennifer Tormo, Writing Intern, News & Communications, UF College of Education

Media Contact: Larry Lansford, Director, News & Communications, UF College of Education; llansford@coe.ufl.edu