Texas A&M Professor Receives Meritorious Service Award

Written by: CEHD Communications Staff
Post date: October 29, 2010

Courtesy of Texas A&M News & Information Services
The Association Of University Centers On Disabilities has presented Texas A&M Professor Linda Parrish its Meritorious Service Award for outstanding achievement in teaching, research and service.
The award comes during Parrish’s final year on faculty before she retires in August 2011.
Parrish has been a speech therapist, a public education classroom teacher, a university professor and a lifelong advocate and volunteer. She has written 44 published works, including books, chapters, articles and reports, and has been funded for 72 projects for more than $9 million dollars – including continuous funding from one agency 1977-2006.
Texas A&M’s Center on Disability and Development is a member of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, an association of 74 university centers.
Michael Benz, director of Texas A&M’s Center on Disability and Development, said the AUCD Meritorious Service Award recognizes individuals whose work has positively impacted the lives of people with disabilities and their families within their community, state and the nation.
“Dr. Parrish, whose activities and achievements have also been recognized by Texas A&M University when she was named a Regent’s Professor, has had a profound and positive effect upon the disability community through her teaching and research when she was a faculty member at TAMU, and through her career-long commitment to local, state and national service,” he said. “Her colleagues in the Center on Disability and Development are excited that her work is being recognized by this important national award.”
Parrish chose to teach both undergraduate and graduate classes every semester — even when she served as the associate dean and as assistant department head of the College of Education and Human Development. Her undergraduate class focused on Inclusion of Students with Disabilities and her graduate classes, although much smaller, addressed Special Education Law, and Career and Technology for Individuals with Disabilities. Parrish has received twice The Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award for Teaching, which is the most coveted teaching award bestowed by the university. She also is the only recipient in the College of Education and Human Development at Texas A&M who has been named a Regent’s Professor – an honor typically given to only two faculty members from each Texas A&M campus. Also noteworthy is the fact that Parrish was not nominated by the College of Education and Human Development, but by the Women’s Faculty Network, an organization of women faculty in the university across all disciplines.
She was elected by her peers as a charter member of the Faculty Senate at Texas A&M and is an elected member of the Texas Silver-Haired Legislature. She has been president of the Opera and Performing Arts Society (OPAS), the board of trustees of the College Station Independent School District and of Phi Kapa Phi honor society. She has served on the board of KEOS-FM radio station and on the leadership advisory board of KAMU-FM. She has been a board member for Sister Cities International and serves on the board of directors for Project Unity and Safe Harbour, two organizations that provide for families and children in need. She is a regular participant in the Circle of Women Habitat for Humanity build program and has served as the interim director of the Women’s Center and the Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Transgendered (GLBT) Offices at Texas A&M.
Several years ago Parrish was appointed by the late Gov. Ann Richards to chair a five-member task force charged with visiting all 13 state schools (large congregate care institutions housing people with cognitive disabilities) and determining which, if any, could be consolidated or closed. This process took months of travel, visiting, holding public hearings and enduring criticism from employer unions and parent groups. As a result of her leadership, two state schools were closed.
Gov. Richards then appointed Parrish to chair the Texas Developmental Disabilities Council, which she did for several years until Richards was replaced by Gov. G.W. Bush. Parrish also served as a board member for Advocacy, Inc., Texas’ Protection and Advocacy Agency.
Since serving as the public policy coordinator for the Center on Disabilities and Development at Texas A&M, Parrish has represented the center as a member of the Disability Policy Consortium.
Perhaps one of the most valued of her service activities was receiving an annual grant for 24 years that allowed her to conduct a statewide conference for teachers, administrators, rehabilitation counselors, individuals with disabilities and their families. This annual activity was one of the first of its kind in Texas and created a basis for many advocacy activities to grow.