The U.S. Department of Education has awarded $1.3 million in funding through its Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) to the Neag School’s special education program for a project that will fully fund five doctoral students in the areas of literacy, positive behavioral supports, and transition, with four-year competitive fellowships for each student.
The project, titled Project NeXus II, seeks to “serve as a means of connection between the most promising future scholars and the field of special education,” says Michael Coyne, a co-principal investigator, along with Allison Lombardi and Brandi Simonsen.
As the nation faces an ongoing shortage of doctoral-level special education graduates, the research team intends to help address this critical shortage. The purpose of Project NeXus II, Coyne says, is “to prepare at least five doctoral-level personnel who have the conceptual, research, and practical competence to formulate and answer essential educational questions, and lead others in the generation and examination of new questions.” It is a continuation of Project NeXus, which similarly funded doctoral students in special education who have since gone on to leadership and faculty positions in the field, according to Coyne.
“Given the Neag School’s pre-eminence in educational training and research, I’m sure the Ph.D. candidates funded through this program will ‘pay it forward’ in their work with special education students and educators.”
— Radenka Maric, vice president for research, UConn
Funding will be provided for five doctoral students over the next five years, with applications being accepted as early as Dec. 1. The Project NeXus II training plan will be organized into three components, including coursework, applied experiences, and leadership competencies.
“This is a great recognition of the outstanding work of our special education faculty working together to prepare the next generation of professionals,” says Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor Scott Brown, head of the Neag School’s Department of Educational Psychology.
“Continuing the wonderful work done through Project NeXus, the current program will prepare educational leaders to better support the growth and development of students,” adds Radenka Maric, UConn’s vice president for research. “Given the Neag School’s pre-eminence in educational training and research, I’m sure the Ph.D. candidates funded through this program will ‘pay it forward’ in their work with special education students and educators.”