A Productive Union: Married Faculty Collaborate to Secure Grant Funds

October 26, 2010

A Productive Union: Married Faculty Collaborate to Secure Grant Funds


VALDOSTA -- Special Education Professors Patti and Robert Campbell are worth about $30 million -- at least that is the total grant funds they have secured throughout their 40-year careers. Arguably even more impressive is that the husband-wife team has been able to collaborate, even share a small office in the early years, with few squabbles or struggles for power.

“We have written so many grants together that we now work seamlessly, each focusing on certain sections of the grant. We often have 30 calendar days to submit a proposal, so there isn’t time to argue. He did say I was a bit wordy this time,” Patti said with a grin.

In collaboration with Dr. Julie Lee, associate dean of the College of Education, the pair’s latest achievement is a U.S. Department of Education grant to conduct a four-year project that prepares educators to serve children and youth with low-incidence disabilities. The $1.2 million grant will fund 70 teachers from rural settings and underrepresented groups as they earn a Master of Arts in Teaching.

“Particularly in rural areas, teachers who work with disabled students don’t have access to networking opportunities or an evidence-based framework of learning,” said Bob, who teaches online courses about assistive technology. “The grant enables teachers, who once felt like they were on an island, to gain access to proven resources and educators in similar situations. Those who benefit most from this enhanced training are the children.”

The grant adds an element of evaluation to a similar four-year grant, for which the Campbells received a no-cost extension. Patti said the previous grant funded the education of 40 master’s students, but it did not require participants to demonstrate the results of their education on student learning and development.

“This grant builds upon previous grants,” said the Campbells, who have raised $3 million during their 16 years at VSU. “With this added evaluation requirement, we will be able to measure and document that children with low incidence disabilities learned because specific methodologies were used during instruction.”

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 classifies “low-incidence disability” as a severely disabling intellectual, hearing, visual and/or orthopedic impairment that requires the attention of specialized personnel. Bob said the federal government has identified the education of these students -- which comprise less than 1 percent of school-age children -- as a priority.

“Less than 50 percent of students with low-incidence disabilities are graduating from high school," Patti said. “Certifying these teachers in special education founded on evidence-based practices will ensure that students, particularly those in rural areas with limited access, will gain the education they deserve.”

For information about the grant and application requirements, go to the Master of Education Degree Low Incidence Disabilities website at http://coefaculty.valdosta.edu/campbell/lowincidence/index.htm .