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.
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.”