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AU News

Dean Butler to serve on ACRES Board

March 29, 2021
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Dr. Mark Butler has long-standing ties to an organization that advocates for the special education needs of rural communities.

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Dr. Mark Butler, dean of the Anderson University College of Education, will serve as president of the board of directors of the American Council on Rural Special Education (ACRES) for 2021-22.

Butler first became involved with ACRES when he was a doctoral student at the University of Kentucky. In 2015, he was elected as a board-member-at-large. Butler served a three year term on the board and also served ACRES as conference program chair, secretary and this past year as president-elect. 

“My first peer-reviewed national presentation occurred at an ACRES annual conference, so I owe a lot of my professional growth to the organization,” Dr. Butler said, adding that several of his professors at Kentucky were involved in ACRES.

ACRES is about identifying and seeking solutions for disparities between rural and urban areas when it comes to students with disabilities having access to services.

“Students with disabilities are a particularly vulnerable population. In rural communities, there is a scarcity of resources that can directly impact the quality and frequency of the interventions. For example, a large urban or suburban district may employ multiple speech/language pathologists to serve students in their immediate area, but in a rural area one speech/language pathologist may be employed to serve students across districts spread out over several hundred miles,” Dr. Butler said. He added that rural school districts often encounter difficulties trying to recruit and retain high quality certified special educators.

“ACRES has been a venue for practitioners and researchers to share best practices to support the needs of students with disabilities in rural populations for more than 40 years now through the annual conference and their journal, Rural Special Education Quarterly (RSEQ),” Dr. Butler said.    

The board of directors and membership of ACRES comes from all regions of the United States.

Two Anderson University special education faculty members have also made multiple presentations at ACRES annual conferences: Dr. Cindy Baughan, associate professor and associate dean of the College of Education; and Dr. Joanna Stegall, associate professor-special education. Baughan also served as a board-member-at-large for the ACRES organization.

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