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Owen R. White Announces Retirement

Owen R. White, Professor in the area of Special Education, has announced his plan to retire at the end of this academic year.  White has a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon. His areas of teaching and research include general special education, the development of performance-based systems for making timely and effective instructional decisions, and research methods, with a focus on replicated single-subject time-series designs

owen whiteWhite obtained an undergraduate degree in psychology from Willamette University and worked briefly at Oregon’s Fairview Hospital and Training Center, a residential facility for individuals with disabilities. As an assistant psychologist on staff, White was responsible for training staff on behavioral principles and overseeing work with behavioral principles for residents. His supervisor recommended White for special education graduate degree at the University of Oregon.

“My first job as a research assistant [at the University of Oregon] was to set up and run a pigeon laboratory to conduct basic research in behavioral principles,” White explains. “It was not exactly special education, but it paid well.  In my 3rd year was also offered a teaching assistantship in psychology and assisted in the course in behavioral principles.”

White completed a master’s degree and finished his dissertation research while working as the director of research at University of Oregon’s Regional Resource Center. Though his career trajectory is quick and focused, White says that he, essentially, “fell into education and never regretted it.”

“Education is an applied discipline,” White elaborates, “what you do needs to make a real difference in the lives of real people. I find that much more gratifying than the abstract work I did in psychology.”

Norris Haring, the founding director of the Experimental Education Unit (EEU), recruited White to the UW College of Education as coordinator of the Program Development and Evaluation for the EEU. During these years, White worked on research topics ranging from severe disabilities to mild disabilities, school aged to preschool ages, research methods to program evaluation methods. 

In 1984, White became an assistant professor and honed his specialty in special education research and evaluation methods. “Most of my courses have, indeed, fit into the genre of “research” and/or “evaluation” methods,” White clarifies. “But I have, in turn, served as advisor to students specializing in severe disabilities and, more recently, those aiming for board certification as applied behavior analysts.”

White notes his interactions with his “tremendously talented” colleagues and students as highlights of his University career. However, he also notes that his collaborative work with his rehabilitation medicine colleagues was particularly satisfying. “First in developing advanced research methods courses to meet the needs of their students, then in co-authoring doctoral leadership training grants to train researchers in rehabilitation medicine,” he explains.

White has won earned mention in Marquis Who's Who, the Lifetime Achievement Award in Precision Teaching and Standard Celeration Charting from the Standard Celeration Society, and the Lifetime Advocacy Award from the Lifetime Advocacy Plus Quality Assurance Program. Most recently he served as president of the Standard Celeration Society, a member of the board of advisors for the Behavior Research Company, and a member of the Advisory Board for the Precision Teaching Academy.

After retirement, White plans to travel and to continue teaching, both nationally and internationally.  He also plans to work on a book about data-based instruction with Norris Haring and to begin work on a research methods book.

To read testimony from some of Owen White's students, peers, and friends or to add your own, click here.


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