From left, former interim dean Michael D. Davis, VCU President Michael Rao, Ruth S. Harris, Professor Paul J. Gerber, and VCU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Beverly J. Warren at the investiture ceremony for Dr. Gerber.
Established in 2007 and endowed in 2010, the Ruth Harris Endowed Professorship in Dyslexia Studies seeks to enhance the work in the field of language learning and reading disabilities, with a focus on dyslexia. It is the first endowed professorship for the VCU School of Education (see article in The Bridge, Spring 2011)
Paul J. Gerber, Ph.D., is the current Ruth Harris Professor of Dyslexia Studies. He is a professor in the Department of Special Education and Disability Policy. The professorship supports his research and work with doctoral students pursuing careers in dyslexia studies, and sponsors an annual lecture by nationally prominent researchers in the area of dyslexia education and related fields.
Ruth S. Harris, M.Ed., is a former educator and noted dyslexia expert. She established with her husband, Dr. Louis S. Harris, a family foundation to support research and training in dyslexia and biomedical sciences. Mrs. Harris served as Academic Coordinator at Riverside School for 13 years and currently serves the school in the capacity of Academic Consultant.
Ruth Harris Dissertation Stipend
Doctoral candidates whose dissertation work is focused specifically in the area of learning disabilities and/or dyslexia are eligible for a $1,000 stipend. The stipend is awarded in two parts (1) half after passing the dissertation prospectus hearing, and (2) half upon completion of the dissertation. For more information, please inquire to Dr. Gerber.
Fifth Annual Ruth Harris Lecture in Dyslexia Studies: “Digging Through Dyslexia”
Ruth Harris guest lecturer, Jack Horner paleontologist, who just happens to also be diagnosed with dyslexia, discusses career success despite learning disability.
“I would say that the advantage my learning disability gives me over virtually all other students is that I can do things differently. I can challenge the status quo,” he said at a small luncheon prior to his evening presentation to the public. “And what I mean by that is, instead of accepting what teachers say, I would challenge everything I was told, whether it was true or not.”
“His style’s very different,” Gerber said. “If you don’t teach one size fits all, then you allow individuals to find their own way in learning and their own way of thinking. That’s where some people who have a gift buried inside a learning disability are able to allow that to blossom, like Jack’s story.”
THE 4TH ANNUAL RUTH HARRIS PROFESSORSHIP LECTURE IN DYSLEXIA STUDIES FEATURING KEYNOTE SPEAKER DR. H. LEE SWANSON
H. Lee Swanson, Ph.D., holds an endowed chair and the rank of Distinguished Professor in Educational Psychology/Special Education at the University of California at Riverside. His prime research interests are in the area of intelligence, memory and mathematics reading and dynamic assessment as they apply to children with learning disabilities.
Dr. Swanson reviewed some of his meta-analysis work related to answering six questions:
1. Should cognition be added to the definition of learning disabilities?
2. What standard should be set to determine if treatment outcomes are meaningful?
3. Is IQ really irrelevant to treatment outcomes?
4. What are we really getting in terms of outcomes related to Dynamic Testing and Response to Intervention?
5. Is phonological awareness really that important?
6. Are adult dyslexics a lot like kids in processing difficulties?
To view Dr. Swanson’s presentation, CLICK HERE
Anne Ford, author and great-granddaughter of Ford Motor Company founder Henry Ford, and author/playwright John-Richard Thompson spoke about parenting children with learning disabilities. Ford shared her experiences of parenting a daughter with learning disabilities, from initial diagnosis through guiding her toward an independent future. Despite having a wealthy, well-connected family, it was difficult for Ford to get a reliable assessment of her daughter Allegra’s learning disability in 1970, when she was four years old, and find a supportive learning environment for her.
Candace Cortiella, founder and director of The Advocacy Institute, presented an update on dyslexia and federal education policy. Her institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to the development of products and services that work to improve the lives of people with learning disabilities. CLICK HERE to view the presentation and other materials from her lecture.
British researcher Julie Logan, who studies how dyslexic entrepreneurs succeed in business, presented a lecture titled “Dyslexia, Entrepreneurship and Confidence” (see article in The Bridge, Spring 2012)
Nationally renowned developmental neurologist Peter B. Rosenberger, M.D., delivered a lecture titled “Dyslexia Comes of Age: Diagnosis Makes a Difference.” Dr. Rosenberger is a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology and the International Academy for Research in Learning Disabilities. His research interests are focused on disorders of language, learning and attention.
The professorship hosted its first lecture in 2011, titled “Mapping the Brain’s Circuits for Reading,” and featured guest speaker F. Xavier Castellanos, M.D., director of research training at the New York University Medical Center. Dr. Castellanos is one of the leading experts on dyslexia through structural and functional brain imaging studies. He also led a workshop with VCU doctoral and advanced graduate students on “Imaging the Brain’s Intrinsic Function Architecture.”