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Spotlight: Diane Browder Gets UNC System’s Highest Faculty Honor

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Spotlight: Diane Browder Gets UNC System’s Highest Faculty Honor

Date Published:
Friday, April 8, 2011

A UNC Charlotte special education professor has staked her claim as the very best in the UNC System.

Diane M. Browder, Lake and Edward J. Snyder Jr. Distinguished Professor of Special Education in the College of Education, was honored April 8, with the O. Max Gardner Award, the highest faculty award presented by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.

It is the first such honor for a UNC Charlotte faculty member since the award was created in 1949.

The award is presented each year to one faculty member from the system’s 17 campuses recognized as having “made the greatest contribution to the welfare of the human race.”

Browder is one of the nation’s leading experts on academic instruction and assessment methods for severely disabled children. Her work is fundamentally changing educational expectations for disabled children and impacting educational policies and practices nationally.

The College of Education’s special education program was recognized recently as one of the top 20 programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

“For most of the history of humankind, children with severe intellectual disabilities were not given many opportunities to learn,” said Mary Lynne Calhoun, dean of the College of Education. “Diane’s research, done in partnership with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, has opened doors for children with learning challenges and provided the means for them to become successful learners.”

Diane Browder has done more to impact the quality of education and the quality of life for severely disabled children than any other individual in the past half century.
Michael Green
Nominating Committee Chair

Browder has helped dispel the long-held belief that children with severe disabilities could not learn cognitive or academic skills. Her research has shown that such expectations set the bar far too low and demonstrated that these students can and do learn academic skills when provided appropriate structure and opportunity.

Browder’s Early Literacy Skills Builder, a specialized reading program for severely disabled students, has been implemented in over 800 school systems and 3,000 schools nationwide.

Browder has generated more than $12 million of competitive research funding and presented at scores of conferences nationally and internationally.

Associate Professor Michael Green, chair of the committee that nominated Browder, said of his colleague: “Diane Browder has done more to impact the quality of education and the quality of life for severely disabled children than any other individual in the past half century.”