LAWRENCE — The Department of Special Education at the University of Kansas will bestow the Dole Humanitarian Award to former chancellor Gene A. Budig and his wife, Gretchen Budig, on May 10 during a ceremony at the Dole Institute of Politics.
The award recognizes individuals with Kansas connections whose efforts have enhanced the quality of life of individuals with disabilities and their families. The inaugural award was presented in 2008 to native Kansan and former U.S. Sen. Robert Dole in recognition of his lifetime of distinguished public service to the disability community. Ross and Marianna Beach were the second recipients of the award in 2009; Richard Schiefelbusch and his collaborators received it in 2011.
Gene and Gretchen Budig are longtime supporters of the Department of Special Education as well as other KU centers and programs that provide research, services and leadership in many areas of disability studies.
While chancellor, Budig was instrumental in recognizing the need to establish funding and facility support at a critical time for the field.
Edward Meyen, professor of special education and director of the e-Learning Design Lab, noted, “As chancellor, Gene Budig made a number of critical decisions that impacted the future of the Department of Special Education and other programs on campus committed to the study of disability. His leadership in ensuring that state of the art space for conducting research, teaching and providing clinical services was available set the stage for the University of Kansas to become an internationally recognized university in making a difference in the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families.”
The Budigs have also endowed the Budig Teaching Professorship in Special Education.
“Gene and Gretchen Budig,” said Meyen, “Through a very generous and creative gift, have changed the way the way special education faculty thinks about their teaching. Creating this teaching professorship, awarded annually, focused attention on teaching in a manner that placed the value of teaching in perspective. The department has always valued teaching, but its record in research has been its public image. Yet, students come here to learn from faculty who value both teaching and research — and view the engagement of students in research to also be teaching. “
The professorship allows the department to honor and retain the faculty who have helped them make the department internationally recognized. Recipients of the Budig Special Education Professorship have included Jerry Chaffin, Gary Clark, Don Deshler, Eva Horn, Ed Meyen, Wayne Sailor, Ann Turnbull, Rud Turnbull and Mike Wehmeyer.
The Department of Special Education at KU consistently ranks as one of the top graduate-level special education programs in the country. In the 2013 edition of U.S. News and World Report's America's Best Graduate Schools, the Department of Special Education at KU was once again ranked No. 1 among public universities.