Mary Lynne Calhoun, 1945-2023
She made a difference in education
Mary Lynne Calhoun, who put her own research agenda aside to lead the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, Cato College of Education to prominence among US schools and colleges of education, passed away 21 May 2023. From 1999 to 2013, Professor Calhoun served as the Dean for the Cato College and—of particular importance to readers of Special Education Today—during that time she helped assemble an outstanding faculty, especially in special education. She also created a diverse and deep group of programs in counseling, educational leadership, K-12 education, and reading and elementary education (in addition to special education).
Professor Calhoun began her academic career at UNCC in 1982; served as chair of the Department of Counseling, Special Education, and Child Development for three years (1996-1999); and then was appointed dean. She was instrumental in securing the authority for three departments in the college (special education, counseling, and curriculum and instruction) acquiring the authority to offer doctoral degrees. Upon her retirement from UNCC, she was recognized as “Dean Emerita.” (See “Celebration of Life: Dean Emerita May Lyne Calhoun” for a report by the Cato College’s news group.)
Professor Calhoun was born in West Virginia and earned degrees from Randolph Macon Women’s College (AB in English) and the University of Georgia (M.Ed. and Ph.D in special education). She and her spouse, Lawrence Calhoun (also a professor at UNC Charlotte), raised two daughters. From the public obituary, it sounds like the family was close and shared many interests.
Before becoming dean, Professor Calhoun focused on young children with intellectual disabilities. Although I did not know her closely, I had the chance to meet her at a reception for one of her faculty members in the 2010s. I first became aware of her work in the 1980s when I was reading about writing instruction and students with disabilities; she had reported a study comparing children’s performance when they wrote words by hand versus typing them. I remember it because, in my recollection, the study was one of few at that time that examined such issues, investigating a skill that I thought was going to become particularly relevant.
I hope readers of SET and who knew Professor Calhoun will drop comments on this post.
Calhoun, M. L. (1985). Typing contrasted with handwriting in language arts instruction for moderately mentally retarded students. Education and Training of the Mentally Retarded, 20(1) 48-52. https://www.jstor.org/stable/23877282