Sasso announces plans to retire at end of academic year

Thursday, July 13, 2017 - 11:45am

Dr. Gary M. Sasso, who has served as the seventh dean of the College of Education since 2008, has announced that he is retiring from Lehigh University at the conclusion of the 2017-18 academic year.

“Dean Sasso has led the College of Education to significant increases in research prominence, increased engagement with our local community and an outstanding record of recruiting wonderful new faculty. We wish Gary the best as he enters the next chapter of his life, and know that he is leaving a lasting legacy of excellence at the College of Education,” said Provost Patrick V. Farrell. He added that he will convene a search committee for this role during the Fall 2017 semester.

Sasso’s career spans more than a 30-year period as a classroom teacher, researcher, professor and skilled administrator. He has published extensively in the areas of education, psychology, behavior analysis, human development and the philosophy of education. He has lectured and presented at more than 200 conferences, seminars and other educational meetings and professional development events both within the United States and around the world.

He was named dean of the College of Education nine years ago, following a seven-year term as chair of the Teaching and Learning department at the highly ranked University of Iowa’s College of Education. At the time, Lehigh leaders lauded Sasso’s scholarship and his informed understanding of issue facing pre-K to 12th grade education and human service delivery, academic experience and collaborative leadership style. Members of the search committee also noted his passion for research and his keen understanding of the higher ed landscape.

While at Lehigh, Sasso is credited with increasing the number and quality of faculty and staff hires, aiding in the creation of the Autism Clinic (set to open in early 2018), creating a multi-disciplinary program in early development education, dramatically increasing federal grant funding and major gifts to the college and leveraging the COE’s existing strengths to elevate its profile, build its alumni base and increase community connections.

In 2015, he also stepped in as interim vice president and associate provost for the Office of International Affairs during a transitional period.

Prior to his administrative role at the University of Iowa, he was a member of the faculty of both the department of Teaching and Learning and the department of Pediatrics in the School of Medicine at Iowa. Prior to that, he was a professor at the University of Northern Colorado, where he developed the first academic and research program in Colorado for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

He is the former editor of Behavioral Disorders, one of the most respected special education journals, as well as a member of the editorial boards of Exceptional ChildrenJournal of Autism and Developmental DisabilitiesJournal of Special Education, Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental DisabilitiesFocus of Autism and Developmental Disabilities and Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions. He has also served as guest associate editor for the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis.

Sasso earned both his master’s degree (1978) and his doctoral degree (1984) at the University of Kansas in special education and applied behavior analysis. During that time, he conducted research at the Juniper Garden’s School Research Unit, as well as a number of federal grants in the area of autism, behavior disorders, and mental illness.


By: Linda Harbrecht 

Posted on: Thursday, July 13, 2017