Texas Tech Names First Endowed Research Chair in Education

New Burkhart Center director will give a boost to autism research and outreach.

Officials at Texas Tech University announced today (Aug. 2) a strategic hire in the College of Education. David M. Richman will fill the endowed $1.5 million Jere Lynn Burkhart Chair in Autism Research in the Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research effective Aug. 1. Richman most recently was an associate professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of Illinois. “When Interim Dean Ruch joined us in 2009, we discussed how important the Burkhart Center was to the college and the university in its quest for Tier One status,” said Bob Smith, Texas Tech’s provost.  “Coincident to any effort to enhance a university teaching-research-outreach center is having outstanding faculty contributors.  Also, when recruitment of faculty is considered, we want to attract candidates from Tier One institutions.  Dr. Richman meets both criteria and we are delighted that he will be joining us this fall.” Richman’s teaching and research focuses on assessment and treatment of behavior disorders such as aggression, property destruction and self-injurious behavior. Current research projects are investigating the effects of early intervention and prevention treatment for birth-to-five children with disabilities exhibiting emerging behavior disorders. But Richman has much broader plans for the Burkhart Center. “I’d like to start with some kind of community needs assessment,” Richman said. “There’s no way the center can address a thousand needs, but we can focus on a handful of them, and be the best in the world at those. Let’s go for some grant dollars, let’s get our name out in some publications – let’s start to first do it for our community, then disseminate it and let the rest of the country and the world find out about the Burkhart Center at Texas Tech.” The prevalence of autism spectrum disorders is increasing, said Taylor Eighmy, vice president for research at Texas Tech. “We are fortunate that Dr. Richman will be joining us to direct the Burkhart Center. The center conducts essential outreach to those with spectrum disorders and the professional community caring for these individuals. Our focus on research on autism will increase and we are delighted that Dr. Richman will be catalyzing this effort.”  Richman earned bachelor’s degrees in psychology and political science from the University of Iowa in 1991; a doctoral degree in school psychology and minor in applied behavior analysis, University of Iowa in 1997 and was a Post Doc Fellow in the Department of Behavioral Psychology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1998.  Richman was on UI’s Unofficial List of Professors Ranked as Excellent by their Students in the College of Education in Fall 2009, and he received the B. F. Skinner New Researcher Award from the American Psychological Association in 2004. A member of the governing board of Larkin’s Place in the Department of Special Education at UI from 2007-2010, Richman also is on the board of editors for the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis until 2013. CONTACT:  Leslie Cranford, Communications & Marketing, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-2136, or leslie.cranford@ttu.edu.