Late WOU Professor Recognized for ‘Historic’ Contributions to the Field of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

A red bike rack that spells the name "Hank"

The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities announced in early April that it was honoring the late College of Education Professor Hank Bersani in its National Historic Recognition Project 2000-2020.

A man on a bicycle wearing a tuxedo cycling shirt and helmet, smilingBersani, a professor of special education who passed in 2012, was named a National Honoree in the project, which seeks to recognize the key figures who transformed the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities over the last twenty years.

“These individuals or groups were often engaged in nationally significant research, practice, public policy, and advocacy initiatives that enhanced quality of life for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” AAIDD said in a press release announcing the awards.

In a booklet commemorating the award, the organization called Bersani a respected leader in the field of special education and disability rights.

“Dr. Bersani left an extensive body of scholarship, teaching, and service in the areas of education, public health, service quality, and communication” the booklet said.

In its obituary on Bersani, AAIDD said he earned a bachelor’s degree from St. Michael’s College and both master’s and doctoral degrees from Syracuse University.

“He was the author of numerous articles, chapters, and books touching on public health, service quality, and communication… At WOU, he taught a generation of future leaders in the field,” the organization wrote in the obituary.

“Hank left a big impact on the field of special education,” said Dr. Mark Girod, Dean of the College of Education.

Girod remembered Bersani as a witty and joyful person who loved bicycling.

Story by Anthony Rimel

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