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Oct. 25, 2005
CONTACT: Ron Podell

EMU urban education speaker series begins Oct. 27

YPSILANTI - Donna Ford, professor of special education and the Betts Chair of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University, kicks off the John W. Porter Distinguished Chair for Urban Education Speaker Series with “The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Erase: Closing the Achievement Gap,” Thursday, Oct. 27, 7:30 p.m., in the Porter Building Auditorium  (room 203).

Ford also hosts a workshop, “Creating Culturally Responsive Curriculum,” Friday, Oct. 28, 9 a.m.- noon, room 301 B/C, Porter Building. The workshop is for teachers, students and faculty members.  Registration is at 8:30 a.m. To attend, R.S.V.P. ddavis31@emich.edu.

The Speaker Series continues through Jan. 26, 2006.

“Her work in the area of education for gifted and talented students is most impressive.  She has a particular interest  in the under-representation of  minorities in gifted and talented programs,” said Vernon Polite, dean of EMU’s College of Education. “Her personal stories bring home the importance of providing rich educational opportunities for all students, especially students who are at the margins of society.”

The John W. Porter Distinguished Chair in Urban Education  in the COE is named for John W. Porter, former EMU president and state superintendent of public instruction. It is the first endowed chair in the COE. The C.S. Mott Foundation and the MacGregor Foundation largely funded the chair.  The chair is designed to actively expand the University’s role in urban school districts in Michigan, with an emphasis on school/community relations.

Typically,  one visiting professor occupies the Porter Chair for one year and makes periodic visits to campus. This year, the COE reconfigured the format to provide opportunities for EMU faculty, students and staff to interact with a variety of scholars through a “Speaker Series” format. 

During her career, Ford has been a professor of special education at Ohio State University, an associate professor of educational psychology at the University of Virginia and a researcher with the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented. She also taught at the University of Kentucky. Ford conducts research primarily in gifted education and multicultural/urban education.

Specifically, her work focuses on recruiting and retaining culturally diverse students in gifted education; multicultural and urban education; and minority student achievement and underachievement.

Ford's work has been recognized by various professional organizations, including the

Research Award from the Shannon Center for Advanced Studies; Early Career Award from The American Educational Research Association; Early Scholar Award from The National Association for Gifted Children; and the Esteemed Scholarship Award from The National Association of Black Psychologists. She has published more than 90 articles.

Ford is a former board member of the National Association for Gifted Children and has served on numerous editorial boards, such as Gifted Child Quarterly, Journal of Negro Education and Roper Review.

Ford received her doctorate of philosophy in urban education (educational psychology); her master’s of education degree (counseling); and her bachelor’s degree in communication and Spanish, all from Cleveland State University.

After Ford’s presentation Oct. 27, a ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception will follow to celebrate the opening of the COE’s Office of Urban Education and Educational Equity.

The purpose of the office is to support efforts to create supportive educational environments that enable all students to achieve, with a focus on populations that are disenfranchised, including students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, second language learners and minority students. The office conducts research; develops and implements programs; and supports current programs in areas such as teacher development, addressing the achievement gap, institutional environments, assessment and technology.

The rest of the Speaker Series is as follows:

  • Joycelyn Elders, former U.S. Surgeon General, presents “Creating Successful School and Community Partnerships in Urban Settings,” Nov. 3, 7:30 p.m., McKenny Union Ballroom.
  • Gary Orfield,  professor of education and social policy of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, and director of the Civil Rights Project there, will discuss the topics of over-representation of minority students in special education and the impact of accountability requirements in the No Child Left Behind Act. The lecture is scheduled Nov. 22, 7:30 p.m., at the Eagle Crest Conference Center. A reception begins at 6:30 p.m.
  • James Earl Davis, professor in the department of educational leadership and policy studies at Temple University, presents “Uneasy Ties: Race and Gender in Urban Education Reform,” Jan. 26, 7:30 p.m., Porter Building.

For more information, contact Dawn Davis at 487-0255, extension 2536, or e-mail her at ddavis31@emich.edu.

Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their careers and lives, and to be better citizens.


Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.

Editor's Note: Looking for an expert source for a story? Check out EMU's Eastern Experts online at www.emich.edu/univcomm/easternexperts.

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