Eastern Michigan University's department of special education to celebrate 100 Years

Submitted by Phil Smith | Published November 5, 2012

Eastern's Department of Special Education has been around for a very long time – almost 100 years, in fact. So, to celebrate this historic occasion, we have decided to throw an anniversary party that you won't want to miss. Save the dates of May 16-18, 2014, and join us for a weekend full of wonderful events and activities. You'll meet current and former students, faculty, and other colleagues who will come together to remember our amazing history, while we get ready for an equally amazing future. Additional events and activities are planned throughout the 2013-2014 academic year.

The work of the department began in 1914, when Dr. Charles Berry organized a program to train teachers to work with students with disabilities – making Eastern's Department of Special Education the oldest in the country. The program almost immediately came under the auspices of EMU (then the Michigan State Normal School). In the early 1920's, under the leadership of Professor Charles Elliott, the department was formally organized, and laboratory schools established, first in Detroit, and then on the campus in Ypsilanti. Pierce and Welch Halls housed some of these early facilities. Early programs trained teachers to work with students who were blind and deaf.

In 1937, Professor Elliott obtained funding to establish the first school designed for training teachers of students with disabilities, the Rackham School. An occupational therapy program was developed soon thereafter, along with a speech-language pathology program. The Rackham Building remained the home of the department for a number of decades. Over the years, many leaders in the field of special education, known internationally, have taught or lectured at the department.

The College of Education relocated to the Porter Building in 1999, just across the street from the Rackham Building (now on the Register of Historical Buildings). With 26 faculty members and numerous undergraduate and graduate programs, it remains the most comprehensive special education program in the state.

Come join the Department of Special Education in 2014, as it celebrates 100 years of history!

To learn more, visit the Department of Special Education & Communication Sciences and Disorders site.