Murray honored for commitment to special education

BOWLING GREEN, O.—Dr. Mary Murray, associate dean for student services and teacher education in the College of Education and Human Development, received a 2014 Kathe Shelby Leadership Award during Ohio’s annual Special Education Leadership Conference. 

Named in honor of the director of the Office for Exceptional Children from 2008-11, the award is presented to an outstanding special education leader.

Four education leaders were selected, each representing a different aspect of leadership that is vital in supporting Ohio’s children with disabilities to be prepared for the best future possible for each child. 

Murray has long been an advocate for children with special needs as well as for their parents, drawing on their experience and making them part of the educational process not only for their own children but for BGSU students preparing to be intervention services specialists as well.

Former colleague Dr. Judith Niemeyer, professor emerita of special education at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, wrote in her nominaton: “Dr. Murray has been in the special education field all of her professional life in the capacity of teacher, administrator and University faculty member. She is very passionate about procuring and developing innovative programs for children with disabilities which has been demonstrated by her work, such as, transitioning children with disabilities to public school settings, development of the Autism Certificate/Masters program at BGSU, development of the Inclusive Early Childhood Program at BGSU, development of the parent professional collaborative approach in college preparation of future teachers of children with disabilities. The parent professional collaboration initiative has now been adopted by the Ohio Department of Education as a model for parent professional training across the state.”

“In addition to all of the initiatives Dr. Murray has been involved in creating and implementing, she serves on numerous local and state committees related to children with disabilities. She is the current chair of the Ohio State Advisory Panel for Exceptional Children, as well as a member of numerous other state committees, such as the Ohio Center for Low Incidence, Model School, Autism Society of Ohio, Voices for Ohio Children.”

Murray has presented her research on issues related to family participation in teacher education both internationally and nationally. She also conducts workshops and training sessions for teachers and administrators in inclusive practices, autism, differentiated instruction, and co-teaching.

Alumna Tabitha Titus wrote, “I have had the privilege to know Dr. Murray in a number of capacities; student, graduate assistant, co-lecturer, and co-author of three journal articles. Dr. Murray made me go beyond what I had ever thought possible. She is the type of person that expects the best from people, and usually gets it.  As a parent of three children, (two with disabilities) I attended BGSU as a much older student. Dr. Murray saw the drive I had for learning and she embraced it and nurtured it. She expected me to speak at conferences, collaborate with others, discuss and brainstorm ideas with colleagues, and work on publications. She encouraged me to do amazing things that I never thought possible!”

Dr. Brad Colwell, dean of the college, added that Murray, who has taught at BGSU since 2005, also established a program for BGSU students who have autism and has served as a mentor to countless students at risk of academic failure.  “In sum,” he said, “Mary has shown unmatched commitment to BGSU’s pre-service and graduate education programs for aspiring Intervention Service teachers.”