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Maynard Reynolds was leading force for special education students

Educational psychology professor emeritus Maynard Reynolds, who died Oct. 16 at the age of 90, was the spirit and the driving force behind the development of the Special Education Program at the University of Minnesota and provided national and international leadership to the development of the field of special education.

After completing his Ph.D. at the University in 1950 he joined the faculty as assistant professor and director of the Psychoeducational Clinic. "There was no department of special education at the University," he said. "But as clinic director I was first-in-line as inquiries about handicapped/exceptional children came to the College of Education."

Professor Reynolds turned his attention to school programs and with Governor Elmer Andersen worked to enact the 1957 legislation creating school programs for students with disabilities in Minnesota. From that point forward he helped Minnesota become the national leader in the developing field of special education, contributing significantly to the passage of the federal special education law in 1977. Under his leadership, the Special Education Program was consistently ranked as the top program in the nation.

Later he assumed the chairmanship of the newly formed Psychoeducational Department, composed of the Special Education, School Psychology, Psychological Foundation, and Counseling and Student Personnel Psychology programs. He retired in 1989.

His scholarly work focused on what initially was referred to as "mainstreaming." The goal of this work was to reduce segregation of students with disabilities and increase their integration into general education classrooms. That work ran parallel with the national and international effort to bring people with disabilities into the mainstream of society.

His many contributions at the University and nationally resulted in his receiving the J.E. Wallace Wallin Lifetime Achievement Award from the national Council for Exceptional Children in 1971 and the University's Outstanding Achievement Award in 2004.

While Professor Reynolds's contributions to the field were many, for his students and colleagues his role as a teacher and mentor stand out the most. "After I arrived," said a current faculty member, "Maynard became a fairly special mentor to me. He served on my first few synopsis committees, visited one of my classes early on, and gave me guidance and advice. He was always so generous with his time and attention, and I quickly came to see him as wise, sage, and just a great leader and colleague."

- written by professor emeritus Stan Deno

See Reynolds's obituary in the Star Tribune.

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