Special education department wins national award 
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 7, 2005

By Andrew O'Neill

In recognition of its groundbreaking work in cultural exchange opportunities, the UA department of special education, rehabilitation and school psychology received an honorable mention award, officials said.

Sponsored by the Institute of International Education, the 2005 Andrew Heiskell Awards for Innovation in International Education are meant to recognize and encourage outstanding achievements in the field of international higher education by IIE Network member institutions, according to a press release from the College of Education.

"We were thrilled with it," said professor Charlene Kampfe, associate professor of rehabilitation counseling in the department.

"To be recognized at a national level for our international work is exciting," Kampfe said.

The mission of the program is to develop and offer rehabilitation education, research and community services of excellence that will lead to leadership and practice that is in the forefront of the rehabilitation field, according to the 2004 Rehabilitation Programs Fact Sheet.

It also noted that the program is the only one of its kind in the state to offer academic degrees in rehabilitation.

Kampfe said the department prepares students at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels to pursue careers as rehabilitation counselors for people with a variety of disabilities, such as brain injuries, blindness, ambulatory problems and alcoholism.

"Faculty members have received grants which have allowed them to work with universities in Mexico and Canada in wonderful exchanges, " Kampfe said.

She said the department was recognized for these types of outreach programs, which encourage students to understand and celebrate diversity because they teach students how to work with people with disabilities from diverse backgrounds.

"Students will become more aware of what is being done for people with disabilities in other communities," said professor Susan Moore, an adjunct assistant professor in the rehabilitation counseling program.

Moore said student exchange programs include traditional semester-long exchanges, as well as short-term institutes and other unique learning opportunities.

Participating schools include two universities in Sonora, Mexico, and the universities of Calgary and Manitoba in Canada. The UA and San Diego State University round out the program's trilateral consortium, Moore said.

Kampfe said students may also volunteer for an immersion program on the nearby Navajo Indian Reservation, and students from the reservation are brought to the UA for internship opportunities.

"We have been very innovative in reaching out to individuals in communities who don't have access to universities," said professor Lawrence Aleamoni, head of the department of special education, rehabilitation and school counseling.

Aleamoni said he wrote a letter to the Heiskell Awards committee in support of his faculty members involved in the outreach program because they have gone out of their way to reach out to underrepresented groups. Aleamoni said he was pleasantly surprised that they received an honorable mention.

"I'm hoping it will provide recognition for the quality of faculty and programs we have in the college," Aleamoni said.

Other faculty members in the department also hope the award will highlight strengths within the program.

"For a small program, we're active in solid research and we're involved in national organization," said professor Amos Sales, program head of rehabilitation.

Sales said he hopes the recognition will encourage other students in the college to get involved in its exchange opportunities.

Moore said she hopes there will be an increase in the cross-pollination of professional development for students and faculty.

"The world is getting smaller, and we need to get to know our neighbors and they need to get to know us," she said.