Text-only version of this website Skip to content

In Memoriam: Cecil D. Mercer, Ph.D., special education ‘giant’



MERCER, Cecil--pic from websiteCecil D. Mercer, a giant in his field during his 31 years (1974-2005) on the College of Education’s special education faculty, passed away at home on Nov. 21, 2014, after a long battle with Lyme disease. He was 71.

In 1998, Dr. Mercer became the first College of Education faculty member to be promoted to the rank of Distinguished Professor at UF. His nationwide studies of how various states were defining the term “learning disability”—and how their educators were using the term to identify and place students—led to improvements in many states and to more stringent oversight at the federal level. His research in mathematics yielded evidence to support systematic and explicit instruction for students with learning disabilities. He was a three-time recipient of the college’s Teacher of the Year Award and was named Doctoral Adviser/Mentor of the Year in 2001.

Dr. Mercer was the type of versatile, forward-thinking scholar that a university program needs to forge an enduring national reputation. That may explain why UF typically commanded a top 15 spot among special education programs in the yearly U.S. News national rankings during his tenure at UF.

He retired in 2005 after 31 years of teaching and research in a number of areas, including learning disabilities, mathematics, reading and effective teaching principles.

Perhaps the best measure of a scholar is the impact he’s had on both his students and his profession. Dr. Mercer is a three-time recipient of the college’s Teacher of the Year Award. He also was one of the most widely recognized names in the field of learning disabilities. His nationwide studies of how various states were defining the term “learning disability”—and how their educators were using the term to identify and place students—led to improvements in many states and to more stringent oversight at the federal level.

His research in mathematics yielded evidence to support systematic and explicit instruction for students with learning disabilities. He has published seven editions of his best selling text, Teaching Students with Learning Problems, considered one of the leading texts on instructing students with mild disabilities.

Dr. Mercer’s complete obituary can be viewed at http://www.williamsthomasfuneralhome.com/obituaries/Cecil-Mercer-2/#!/Obituary.

Dr. Mercer’s written philosophy on the importance of mentoring doctoral students remains posted on the UF Graduate School’s website since he received the UF Doctoral Mentoring Award for 2001-2002. You’ll find it at http://graduateschool.ufl.edu/academics/cecil-d-mercer.