Nelson named Roos Family Professor of Special Education

Ron Nelson

Nelson named Roos Family Professor of Special Education

15 Jun 2016    By Kelcey Buck

J. Ron Nelson has been named the Larry and Sharon Roos Family Professor of Special Education.

During his 25-year career in special education, Nelson has focused on designing interventions to help children experiencing learning difficulties. He has published 130 peer-reviewed articles, 20 book chapters and 10 books.

Nelson has garnered more than $26 million in grant funding, and his 17 academic programs and two assessment tools continue to help children around the world achieve their maximum potential for learning. His intervention, “Stepping Stones to Literacy”, is the second-highest rated program in the area of alphabetics for kindergarten children on the What Works Clearinghouse improvement index for intervention effectiveness.

“It is quite an honor to have your career work recognized and acknowledged with a named professorship,” Nelson said.

Nelson’s new professorship was established through a gift from Larry and Sharon Roos. The Roos’, who are both UNL alumni, have two children, including a son born with Down syndrome. Throughout his education, they saw firsthand the difference exceptional teachers can make in the lives of children with disabilities. They began their connection with the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders by sponsoring a scholarship fund for undergraduate and graduate students majoring in special education.

Nelson joined the faculty in the UNL Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders in 2000. Prior to that, he held faculty positions at Arizona State University and Eastern Washington University after earning his doctorate in special education and educational psychology from Utah State University in 1990.

“Dr. Nelson certainly has a distinguished career in developing interventions for children with special needs,” said Sherri Jones, chair of the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders. “His passion and insight continue to push the boundaries, formulate new ideas, and engage a growing range of disciplines to solve complex problems.”

Nelson is embarking on a new endeavor this fall when he introduces the Interdisciplinary Learning Technology Academy at UNL. The academy will be a collaborative effort among students from the College of Education and Human Sciences, the Jeffrey S. Raikes School of Computer Science and Management, and the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film to produce innovative learning technologies for desktops, laptops, handheld and mobile platforms targeted at children experiencing learning difficulties.

“I think the next frontier is technology,” Nelson said. “I mapped out this challenge to myself to develop a learning technology academy that would pull all of these groups together at the university. The goal was two-fold: I wanted to develop world-class learning technologies, and I also felt it would offer great interdisciplinary training and learning experiences for students.”


Special Education and Communication Disorders