Taishoff Professor Builds on SU’s Longstanding Tradition of Inclusive Education

Robert Taishoff ’86 and his wife, Laurie Bean Taishoff ’84, have been inspired to help educate society about the special skills, talents, and perceptions of young people, like their daughter Jacquelyn, with Down syndrome.

Their devotion to this cause is so strong, they committed $1 million from the Taishoff Family Foundation to establish the Lawrence B. Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education and the Lawrence B. Taishoff Professorship in the School of Education. Both the center and professorship are named in memory of Robert’s father, Lawrence, who formed a special bond with Jacquelyn the moment she was born.

Wendy S. Harbour joined the School of Education as the inaugural Taishoff Professor and executive director of the Taishoff Center, which intends 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.

Under Harbour’s leadership, the center will demonstrate how student participation can be supported in all aspects of university life, from academic classes to social and recreational opportunities. It will promote public education and advocacy and host national conferences for administrators and others interested in developing inclusive higher education programs, positioning SU as the primary destination for future educators studying Down syndrome, Rhett syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, and other conditions.

“Syracuse’s School of Education is well known in the field of disabilities studies and inclusive education,” says Harbour, who has personal experience in what it’s like to attend school as a student with impaired hearing. “It’s exciting to be part of a model inclusive higher education center in a place where there is so much history.”