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Syracuse University, U.S. Rep. Maffei announce creation of Lawrence B. Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education

October 22, 2009

Ruth Kaplan
(212) 826-1444

On Capitol Hill Thursday, Syracuse University and U.S. Rep. Daniel Maffei announced the creation of the Lawrence B. Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education, which is made possible by a gift from Capt. Robert P. Taishoff and his wife, Laurie Bean Taishoff, on behalf of the Taishoff Family Foundation. The center is intended to become the nation’s largest repository of research, study and practice in the field of inclusive higher education for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

To accomplish its goal, the center will build upon current programs in place for students with intellectual disabilities at Syracuse University’s School of Education. It will also conduct research and demonstration projects related to inclusive education, working with University partners and those across the country to create best practices in this field of study.

The center is headed by Executive Director Wendy S. Harbour, recipient of the Lawrence B. Taishoff Endowed Professorship. The institute also convenes an advisory board of nationally recognized leaders in the study of inclusive higher education, which includes two students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“With its history of commitment to inclusion, Syracuse University is uniquely positioned to become a leader in the field of inclusive higher education,” says Harbour. “Recent changes in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 will likely increase the number of students with intellectual and developmental disabilities in higher education, and the Taishoff Center is prepared to address emerging issues related to this population while fostering broader dialogue and research about disability and diversity in postsecondary education.”

The center, named after Capt. Taishoff’s father, Lawrence, is in honor of the benefactors’ daughter, Jacqueline, who has Down syndrome.

“It is our hope that the center will bring people together from across the country to develop a set of standards for inclusive postsecondary education programs,” says Capt. Taishoff.

“It was not long ago that individuals with intellectual disabilities were routinely institutionalized,” Taishoff says. “Once we created opportunities for them, society quickly learned that it was institutionalizing poets, artists, musicians and otherwise productive members of society. To me, this initiative will be the next step toward unlocking the still-hidden potential of this group of people.”

In addition to its classroom work and research focus, the Taishoff Center will provide technical assistance to students, educators, administrators, policymakers and parents interested in helping to make higher education more inclusive. The center will also offer public education and advocacy resources for legislation that supports inclusive education, including:

  • postsecondary transition planning for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities;
  • universally designed curricula and pedagogical strategies to enhance inclusion of all learners, with and without disabilities; and
  • access to financial aid and other federal postsecondary programs for all students with disabilities.

Syracuse University currently operates two inclusive education programs that will work in tandem with the research and resources from the Taishoff Center:

  • OnCampus—a collaboration between SU and the Syracuse City School District in which students up to age 21 work on academic and social goals from their Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) within the context of the University campus and nondisabled peers; and
  • Access—a partnership between the University and a publicly funded adult service agency that provides educational support to students over the age of 21 in auditing college courses across disciplines.

For more information about the Lawrence B. Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education at Syracuse University, visit

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