Rosemary Mercedes, Pace University
212-346-1637, Cell: 914-424-3845
Diedre Schremp, G.S. Schwartz & Co.
212-725-4500 Ext. 324
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PACE UNIVERSITY TO ESTABLISH ENDOWED PROFESSORSHIP IN AUTISM WITH GIFT FROM MICHAEL KOFFLER,
PRESIDENT AND CEO OF METSCHOOLS
Dianne Zager, national leader in autism education, appointed to establish what is believed to be the largest U.S. program in autism education
New York, NY, September 7, 2005 – An increasing number of diagnoses of autism and rampant controversy over its causes and treatment has created growing demand for teachers prepared to educate autistic students. To meet this need and clarify the issues, Pace University announced today the establishment of the Michael C. Koffler Endowed Professorship in Autism and the creation of a new national Center for Teaching and Research in Autism.
Dianne Zager, a pioneer in autism education who most recently was a professor at the C.W. Post campus of Long Island University, has been named to serve the first three-year appointment.
The Koffler Endowed Professorship will allow the University to establish the Center as part of Pace’s School of Education. The Center will research and provide recommendations regarding best practices for educating students with autism.
The University hopes to expand its commitment to autism education by establishing model school centers for children and Centers for Professional Development in autism in select public and private school settings.
The endowed professorship is being established with a pledge of $1.25M from Michael C. Koffler, President and CEO of MetSchools, Inc., a leading provider of private schools serving typically developing and special education students in nursery, preschool and kindergarten through eighth grade programs in New York City. Koffler was the 2004 Executive in Residence at Pace University, a program that each year brings chairmen, CEOs, presidents and other top executives from the world’s leading corporations to interact with students and provide a unique perspective on business problems and opportunities from a non-academic point of view.
“Michael Koffler’s gift will enable the School of Education to increase the number of faculty members with specialization in autism education and to establish what I believe will be the biggest program in the country dedicated to autism education,” said Jan McDonald, Dean of Pace’s School of Education.
“I want this gift to Pace University to directly impact the needs of autistic children by increasing the number of professionals trained to teach them in public and private schools across the country,” said Koffler. “Ultimately, the goal is to enhance the lives of students with autism.”
Leadership A nationally recognized leader in the field of special education, Dianne Zager, Ph.D., brings over 30 years of special education experience to the endowed Koffler Professorship. Previously, she served as Director of Pace’s Special Education Teacher Preparation Program at the University’s downtown New York City campus. Zager has been President of the Northeastern Educational Research Association and the New York State Council for Exceptional Children. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Division on Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities of the International Council for Exceptional Children.
In 1994, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry named Zager a Furman Fellow. She has published numerous books, chapters, and research papers on a variety of topics related to the education of students with disabilities. To wide acclaim, earlier this year she authored the third edition of Autism Spectrum Disorders: Identification, Education, and Treatment.
Zager has served as special education consultant to school districts across the United States, including the New York City Department of Education where she has served on the Autism Best Practices Committee since its inception in 2003. She was the founding editor of the scholarly journal, Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, and has served as editor of The Educational Researcher.
MetSchools Koffler’s company (www.metschools.com) currently operates seven schools, with the newest site, Claremont Preparatory School, which opened September 6, 2005. MetSchools’ first program, Sunshine Developmental School, was established in 1985 (www.sunshineschool.org). The company now provides services to over 1,800 children from ages newborn to eighth grade in a variety of academic programs, including special education, early intervention and daycare settings. Rebecca School, scheduled to open in September 2006 in Manhattan, will be solely dedicated to educating children on the autistic spectrum. Rebecca School will provide Pace with its first Center for Professional Development in Autism where teaching professionals will learn their skills.
A private university in the New York Metropolitan area, Pace has a growing national reputation for offering students opportunity, teaching and learning based on research, civic involvement and measurable outcomes. Pace has seven campuses, including downtown and midtown New York City, Pleasantville, Briarcliff, White Plains (a graduate center and law school), and a Hudson Valley Center at Stewart International Airport near Newburgh, N.Y. Approximately 14,000 students are enrolled in undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs in the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Lubin School of Business, School of Computer Science and Information Systems, School of Education, Lienhard School of Nursing and Pace Law School. www.pace.edu