Michael L. Wehmeyer

Michael Wehmeyer
  • Ross and Marianna Beach Distinguished Professor in Special Education

Contact Info

Office Phone:
Joseph R. Pearson Hall, room #518


Brief Biography:
Michael L. Wehmeyer, Ph.D. is the Ross and Marianna Beach Distinguished Professor in Special Education and Chairperson, Department of Special Education as well as Director and Senior Scientist at the Beach Center on Disability, all at the University of Kansas. Dr. Wehmeyer has received funding from multiple federal agencies to conduct research and model development activities and personnel and leadership preparation activities pertaining to the education and support of youth and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He is the author or co-author of over 460 peer-reviewed journal articles or book chapters and has authored/edited or co-authored/edited 45 books on issues pertaining to self-determination, positive psychology and disability, transition to adulthood, the education and inclusion of students with extensive support needs, and technology use by people with cognitive disabilities. He is co-author of the widely used textbook Exceptional Lives: Special Education in Today’s Schools (2020), published by Merrill/Prentice Hall and now in its 9th Edition. Other recent books include Educating Students to Become Self-Determined Learners (with Yong Zhao; 2020); Strengths-Based Approaches to Educating All Learners with Disabilities: Beyond Special Education (2019); Development of Self-Determination Through the Life Course (2017), The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology and Disability (2013), and Good Blood, Bad Blood: Science, Nature, and the Myth of the Kallikaks (2012). Dr. Wehmeyer is Past-President of the Board of Directors for and a Fellow of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD); a past president of the Council for Exceptional Children’s Divisions on Career Development and Transition (DCDT) and Autism and Developmental Disabilities (DADD); a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA), Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Division (Div. 33); and a Fellow of the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IASSIDD). He is a member of Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars-Alpha Pi chapter (University of Kansas) and an honorary alumni inductee of Phi Beta Kappa Arts and Sciences Honor Society-Beta of Oklahoma chapter (University of Tulsa). He is former Editor-in-Chief of the journal Remedial and Special Education and was a founding Co-Editor of the AAIDD journal Inclusion. He is a co-author of the AAIDD Supports Intensity Scale and the 2010 AAIDD Intellectual Disability Terminology, Classification, and Systems of Supports Manual. Dr. Wehmeyer has been recognized for his research and service with awards from numerous associations and organizations, including, recently, the American Psychological Association Distinguished Contributions to the Advancement of Disability Issues in Psychology Award, the AAIDD Research Award for contributions that have contributed significantly to the body of scientific knowledge in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities, the Distinguished Researcher Award for lifetime contributions to research in intellectual disability by The Arc of the United States, and the Burton Blatt Humanitarian Award from the CEC Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities, and the CEC Special Education Research Award recipient for 2016. From 2010 to 2011, Dr. Wehmeyer was the Gene A. Budig Teaching Professor in Special Education in the Department of Special Education at the University of Kansas and in 2015 received the Higuchi-KU Endowment Balfour S. Jefferey Award given “in recognition of research achievement in the humanities and social sciences to an individual who may be described as having had a major and substantial impact and who has been of national and/or international interest.” Dr. Wehmeyer holds undergraduate and Master’s degrees in Special Education from the University of Tulsa and a Masters degree in Experimental Psychology from the University of Sussex in Brighton, England, where he was a Rotary International Fellow from 1987 to 1988. He earned his Ph.D. in Human Development and Communication Sciences from the University of Texas at Dallas, where he received a 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award.


Human Development and Communication Sciences; Developmental Psychopathology, University of Texas at Dallas, 1989, Richardson, TX
Experimental Psychology, University of Sussex, Laboratory of Experimental Psychology and Centre for Research on Perception and Cognition, 1988, Brighton, England
Special Education-Mental Retardation, University of Tulsa, 1982, Tulsa, OK
Special Education-Mental Retardation, University of Tulsa, 1980, Tulsa, OK