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Kohler named associate vice president for research

May 22, 2009

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University has named a high-profile faculty member and education expert to serve as associate vice president for research, effective May 18.

Dr. Paula D. Kohler, professor of special education and literacy studies, brings a wealth of funded research experience to the position, as well as a background in business administration, educational leadership, vocational education and special education.

In her new role, Kohler will be responsible for the Office of the Vice President for Research until WMU completes its national search for an administrator to head the office. She also will continue working on her own research, which focuses on identifying and analyzing students' post-school outcomes and effective secondary education practices, understanding effects of career development on post-school outcomes; and identifying and evaluating strategies for implementing and sustaining research-based practices.

Kohler replaces Dr. Leonard C. Ginsberg, who will be returning to the faculty after a brief sabbatical. Ginsberg was appointed associate vice president in 2004 and began overseeing the entire unit in mid-2005, when its vice president left to take over as executive director of WMU's Biosciences Research and Commercialization Center.

A WMU faculty member since 1999, Kohler served as interim chair of the Department of Special Education and Literacy Studies from 2005 to 2007. She has served as principal investigator and director of several major education-related research projects and centers funded by such organizations as the National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Education.

Kohler is widely recognized for her research regarding effective transition practices for youth with disabilities, including effective transition programs, transition-related competencies, career and technical experiences, and work-based education. Her work on "Taxonomy for Transition Programming" is recognized around the United States as an effective model for planning, implementing and evaluating transition-focused education for students with disabilities.

Kohler's research on effective programs for youth with disabilities provides the foundation for work being done by the National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center, a federally-funded technical assistance and dissemination center that assists states and territories to improve the post-school outcomes of students with disabilities.

She heads the center's capacity-building activities, which include providing information and resources available to all state departments of education, strategic technical assistance in specific states and program improvement in local schools in New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

In addition to serving as a consultant for numerous state and national organizations, Kohler has been called upon to advise U.S. government policy makers regarding disability studies and last year she served on a panel providing input to the federal Office of Adult and Vocational Education.

Her professional activities prior to coming to WMU include serving as a senior research associate for the Transition Research Institute at the University of Illinois, where she also taught, and as a teacher and job placement specialist for the School District of Brevard County in Florida.

Kohler earned a bachelor's degree in business administration, marketing from the University of Florida in 1972; a master's degree in educational leadership from the University of Central Florida in 1990; and a doctoral degree in special education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1993.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

WMU News
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