The Kansas University doctoral training program in special education, a fledgling academic unit a quarter century ago, ranks No. 1 in a new national survey.
"Literally, from a little acorn we have a whole forest," said Rud Turnbull, professor of special education and co-director of the Beach Center on Families and Disabilities.
Faculty at the 37 U.S. institutions with special education doctoral programs put KU ahead of second-place University of Virginia and third-place University of Washington.
Turnbull, who was chairman of the department of special education in the early 1980s, said the ranking recognizes KU's strength in scholarly activity, external funding and national leadership. Department chairman now is Jerry Chaffin.
"It helps us recruit students in this country and around the world, and helps when competing for federal funds," Turnbull said. "It's also good for morale and the university."
THE DEPARTMENT'S graduate program prepares students for jobs as teachers, researchers, consultants, supervisors, program managers and clinical practitioners.
Charles West, professor of educational psychology at the University of Illinois, conducted the survey to determine the nation's top 10 programs. UI ranked seventh.
The KU program, which is conducted on the Lawrence campus and KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., has been highly regarded for a decade, Turnbull said.
"The Ph.D. program here has been ranked number one over the past decade or so," Turnbull said, "but it's still good news."
PROGRAMS FOR the deaf and hard of hearing, emotionally disturbed behavior disorders, learning disabilities, and program supervision and coordination are conducted at KUMC.
On the Lawrence campus, programs include mental retardation, severe multiple handicaps, early childhood handicaps, special education technology, and law and public policy.
Turnbull said KU's reputation in the disabilities field has been bolstered by the department of human development and family life and the department of speech, language and hearing.