Campus News

Shared UK, UofL Grant Addresses Special Education Faculty Shortage

Melinda Ault
Kera Ackerman

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 16, 2019) — The University of Kentucky College of Education and University of Louisville College of Education and Human Development have received a $2.3 million grant to help ease the growing shortage of special education faculty at institutions of higher education.

The project, funded by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs, will provide funding for the preparation of 10 doctoral level scholars in special education, five at UK and five at UofL.

“The current special education faculty is aging, and projections indicate that retirements will continue to increase by as much as 50%. Without special education faculty, institutions of higher education cannot prepare adequate numbers of special education teachers, an area that has a critical shortage in Kentucky and nationwide,” said Melinda Ault, the project’s director and an associate professor of special education in the UK College of Education Department of Early Childhood, Special Education, and Rehabilitation Counseling.

Doctoral students recruited into the grant-supported program will participate in shared coursework and research opportunities at both UK and UofL and be mentored by nationally recognized faculty from both institutions.

“The project takes advantage of the strengths of the faculties at both UK and UofL,” said Kera Ackerman, the project’s co-director at UK and an assistant professor in the UK College of Education Department of Early Childhood, Special Education, and Rehabilitation Counseling. “Through our collaboration, we will focus on developing leaders in special education attuned to the needs of both urban and rural high-need settings.”

Known as Project PURPLE (Preparing Urban and Rural Personnel as Leaders in Education), the project will provide scholars at UK and UofL with full-time tuition funding, training stipends, and travel allowances to attend research conferences.

Ginevra Courtade serves as the project’s co-director at UofL.

“We look forward to using our partnership to recruit and support a diverse group of scholars and to implement a comprehensive program focused on evidence-based practices for students with disabilities in urban and rural high-need schools,” Courtade said.

Scholars are being recruited for a Fall 2020 start. For more information, contact Melinda Ault at

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