Karen Henry
Life Span Institute

University community mourns death of former Life Span Institute director Stephen R. Schroeder

Thu, 10/19/2017

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas community is mourning the death of Stephen R. Schroeder, emeritus professor of applied behavioral science.

Schroeder, 80, died suddenly Oct. 15 in Hannibal, Missouri, while on a Mississippi River cruise with his wife, Carolyn Schroeder.

He served as director of the Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies at KU from 1990 until his retirement in 2001.

“Steve Schroeder was a committed administrator and scientist who played a key role in nurturing and strengthening KU’s research efforts focused on human development and disabilities,” said KU Chancellor Douglas A. Girod. “On behalf of the entire university, I extend my deepest condolences to his family, friends and to all who knew him at KU.”

Schroeder assumed the directorship at the Life Span Institute at a critical juncture, when the Bureau of Child Research and several other research groups were incorporated into the institute.

“Steve’s background in experimental psychology and pharmacology enabled him to provide leadership to biomedical researchers and nurture a collaborative biobehaviorial approach to the problems of development and disabilities that characterizes much of the work being done here today,” said John Colombo, interim vice chancellor for research and director of the Life Span Institute.

Schroeder was internationally known for his work in self-injurious behavior and was one of the principal authors of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's watershed document on the dangers of low-level exposure to lead.

Under Schroeder’s entrepreneurial administration, several other prominent research groups joined the Life Span Institute, making it one of the largest and most respected research and development centers on disabilities and human development in the country.

In 2016, he and Carolyn Schroeder, an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Clinical Child Psychology, established the Carolyn and Stephen Schroeder Practice-Informed Research Award, an endowed fund for the benefit of clinical child psychology at KU. They were also members of the Friends of the Life Span Institute.

In his retirement, Schroeder continued to work on issues related to intellectual and developmental disabilities here and abroad, including a National Institutes of Health grant for large-scale screening of intellectual and developmental disabilities in Peru. He and Carolyn Schroeder were steadfast supporters of the Centro Ann Sullivan del Perú, one of the 14 centers affiliated with the Life Span Institute.

Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Oct. 23 at Corpus Christi Catholic Church, 6001 Bob Billings Parkway, followed by a reception in the Holy Family Hall.

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