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  • In Memoriam: Barbara R. Schirmer
  • Bryan G. Cook (bio)

Barbara was my first chairperson when I started my career at Kent State University in the late 1990s. She was always kind and supportive, taking a personal interest in me and my work. And she was just fun to talk with about academia and scholarship as well as daily life. I can hear her laughter as I write and remember. She was also a great scholarly model for me in my formative years as a professor. I remember that when she worked as chair, she was available to the department from 9:00 to 5:00, but after 5:00 was time for her own scholarship. More often than not, I would find her working on a paper late into the afternoon/evening.

In the early 2000s, with debates regarding the benefits of special education playing out in various outlets as discussions about the reauthorization of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act began, Barbara and I chatted frequently about whether and how special education provided a unique benefit to learners with disabilities. The more we talked, the more we wanted to hear from experts in other fields about their perspectives on this issue, which led to the two of us guest editing a special issue of The Journal of Special Education on the topic. Although I remember fondly the academic conversations about the issues explored in the topical issue, what I remember most was the energy and excitement we shared about conceptualizing the special issue, having it accepted by the journal editors, authors accepting our invitations to contribute papers, and the eventual publication of the special issue and subsequent edited book (Cook & Schirmer, 2003, 2006). It was my first “big” special issue, and it was heady stuff to move from idea to publication in a short time.

When I look back on it, Barbara helped shape my scholarly path but also helped instill a sense of collaboration, excitement, and passion in the work that has helped fuel me throughout my career. Thanks, Barbara. We miss you.

Bryan G. Cook

Cook is a professor at the University of Virginia.

References

Cook, B. G., & Schirmer, B. R. (Eds.). (2003). What is special about special education [Special issue]. The Journal of Special Education, 37(3).
Cook, B. G., & Schirmer, B. R. (Eds.). (2006). What is special about special education: The role of evidence-based practices. PRO-ED.
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