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BERDINE TO SERVE ON WHITE HOUSE COMMISSION ON EXCELLENCE IN SPECIAL EDUCATION

By Ralph Derickson

Photo of William H. Berdine
William H. Berdine

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"Dr. Berdine has developed extraordinary expertise which would greatly assist the commission as it prepares its recommendations for Congress."

-- U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning, in a letter to President Bush supporting Berdine's appointment

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Dec. 4, 2001 (Lexington, Ky.) -- William H. Berdine, professor of special education and chair of the Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling in the University of Kentucky College of Education, has been named to the President's White House Commission on Excellence in Special Education.

In an executive order, President George W. Bush instructed the commission to make a report of its findings and recommendations by April 30. President Bush charged the commission to collect information and study issues related to federal, state and local special education programs with the goal of recommending policies for improving he educational performance of students with disabilities.

The other members of the commission are Gov. Terry Branstad of Iowa, chair; Adela Acosta, a Maryland school principal; Steve Bartlett, former Texas Congressman; Paul C. Butterfield, a Pennsylvania school official; Jay G. Chambers, a California educator; W. Alan Coulter, a Louisiana State University professor; Thomas Flemming, an Eastern Michigan University administrator; Jack M. Fletcher, a University of Texas-Houston administrator; Douglas H. Gill, Washington state special education director; David W. Gordon, a school's superintendent in Oak Grove, Calif.' Nancy S. Grasmick, a Maryland superintendent; Bryan C. Hassel, a North Carolina education policy consultant; Douglas Carl Huntt, commissioner of Ohio Rehabilitation Services; Michael James Rivas, a Texas environmental design architect, Cheryl Rei Takemoto, who heads a parent education advocacy training center in Virginia, and Katie Harper Wright, a writer for a St. Louis newspaper.

In a letter to President Bush supporting Berdine's appointment to the commission, U.S. senators Jim Bunning and Mitch McConnell said, "Dr. Berdine has developed extraordinary expertise which would greatly assist the commission as it prepares its recommendations for Congress."

The letter from the senators pointed out that Berdine also serves as the President of the Higher Education Consortium in Special Education, a private, non-profit organization represent ting a special education leadership personnel preparation programs at institutions of higher education throughout the United States.

In commenting on his appointment, Berdine said, "It is clear President Bush is committed to making thoughtful, well-designed changes in education across the full spectrum of the life span and that the mantra of 'leave no child behind' was more than just another publicized slogan." Berdine added that he is excited by the challenge of serving on the commission, the fist of its kind to focus on special education.

Berdine, a native of Warren, Pa., completed a bachelor of arts degree from Lycoming College in 1965 with a major in ancient and medieval history. He has a master's of education and a doctorate of education with a major in mental retardation/personnel preparation from Pennsylvania State University. He joined the UK faculty in 1972. His current research interests involve the transition of students with disabilities from secondary education to postsecondary settings.

He is the principal investigator on a federally funded demonstration project, the UK Engaging Differences project. The Engaging Differences project is developing a replicable computer-based personnel support system to aid university administrators, faculty and auxiliary services personnel to effectively work with students with disabilities on the UK campus.

Among other things on the Engaging Differences Web site is an example of a letter of accommodation faculty members might receive from persons who have disabilities noting special academic needs they may have in classrooms.

Berdine is married to Stacie Meyer, a special education teacher with 25 years of experience.


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