Thomas M. Skrtic

Williamson Family Distinguished Professor of Special Education
Primary office:
Joseph R. Pearson Hall, Rm. 525
University of Kansas
1122 W. Campus Rd.
Lawrence, KS 66045-3101

Thomas M. Skrtic, Ph.D., is the Willamson Family Distinguished Professor of education in the Department of Special Education at the University of Kansas. His academic interests are classical pragmatism, institutional theory, and democratic social reform, which inform several of his published works, including Behind Special Education: A Critical Analysis of Professional Culture and School Organization (1991), Disability and Democracy: Reconstructing (Special) Education for Postmodernity (1995), and more recently, his contributions to Challenging Orthodoxy in Special Education: Dissenting Voices (Gallagher et al., 2004). In 2004 he was recognized in the Encyclopedia of Educational Leadership as one of the two most influential figures in reconceptualizing the philosophy and practice of special education, and in 2009 he received the Senior Scholar Award of the Disability Studies in Education interest group of the American Educational Research Association for his pioneering work in disability studies, as well as Syracuse University’s William Pearson Tolley Medal for distinguished leadership in lifelong learning.

Teaching Interests

  • Civic professionalism
  • Qualitative inquiry
  • Special education policy and leadership

Research Interests

  • Racial bias in special education
  • Institutional theory
  • Policy design and implementation

Academic Degrees

  • Ph.D., Special Education (Minor: Psychology of Reading), University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, 1976
  • M.S., Educational Psychology, California State University, Long Beach, California, 1972
  • B.S., Special Education, Penn State University, California, 1969


Organization theory, special education policy and administration, and qualitative research and evaluation.

#1 public program in nation for special education
—U.S. News & World Report
Wayne Sailor directs KU’s largest grant, the $24.5 million SWIFT project, to develop a national center to assist schools
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times
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