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UCR researcher to receive national award

UCR researcher to receive national award

(February 7, 2001)

Donald MacMillan, distinguished professor of education at the University of California, Riverside, will receive a national award later this year recognizing his career-long research on retarded children.

He was chosen the Academy on Mental Retardation's Career Research Scientist for 2001 and will receive the award May 30 in Denver at the joint annual conference of the Academy on Mental Retardation and the American Association on Mental Retardation. The academy is the research arm of the AAMR. MacMillan was notified on Wednesday, Jan. 31.

"This is really an honor. It's the capstone of my career," he said. "The Academy includes people in fields like biochemistry, neurology, and psychology. Usually people in education are not recognized by the Academy for their research."

"This is truly an honor for Don, for the School, and for our campus," said Robert Calfee, dean of the Graduate School of Education at UCR.

"Professor MacMillan has been an intellectual mainstay of the Graduate School of Education, and indeed of the UCR campus, for decades. His career is a model of academic accomplishment and significant research impact, and this award is an excellent and appropriate recognition of his success," added David H. Warren, Executive Vice Chancellor at UCR.

The award is bestowed on one researcher each year. The recipient gives the Career Scientist Lecture during the conference. Former UCR award recipients include Professor of Education Richard Eyman in 1989 and Sociologist Jane Mercer in 1991.

MacMillan came to UCR in 1967 after earning his doctorate in education from UCLA. He conducted much of his research at the Lanterman Development Center in Diamond Bar and while working with mildly retarded children at Inland Empire elementary schools.

MacMillan continues his research, writing white papers for the Office of Special Education at the U.S. Department of Education and working on a National Academy of Sciences committee.

His most current research project is a three-year study of the consequences of retaining underachieving children in the elementary grades. The U.S. Department of Education is funding the study, which focuses mostly on poor, inner city and minority children with learning disabilities, or who do not speak English as their primary language. MacMillan is working on this project with fellow education professors Kathleen Bocian and Frank Gresham at UCR.

"One of our concerns is that these low functioning children are going to get caught up in policy shifts of the state and end up without a diploma in the end," he said. "Does it really lead to better achievement later in life to hold them back or put them into a more appropriate program (for learning disabled children)?"

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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