Browder Wins Humanitarian Award from Division on Autism & Developmental Disabilities’

College of Education building
Wednesday, January 31, 2018

UNC Charlotte special education professor Diane Browder has been selected for the Division on Autism & Developmental Disabilities’ (DADD) 2018 Burton-Blatt Humanitarian Award.

The award is presented to an individual who reflects the ideals of the Division and has made significant contributions to the field of intellectual disability, autism, and developmental disabilities. DADD is a division of the Council for Exceptional Children.

Browder is one of the nation’s leading experts on academic instruction and assessment methods for students with disabilities. Her work is fundamentally changing educational expectations for students with disabilities and impacting educational policies and practices nationally. She has over 100 publications covering multiple topics related to the education, training, and assessment of individuals with intellectual disability and autism.  Many publications have appeared in DADD-affiliated journals, including her first published peer-reviewed article. But former student Luann Davis says Browder’s influence reaches farther than her prolific scholarly output.

“Her actions speak even louder to those that are able to watch her working first-hand with students with disabilities, teachers in the classroom, and providing teacher training with follow-up focus groups,” said Dr. Davis, who is now an assistant professor of special education at the University of Memphis. “[Dr. Browder] not only openly shares her knowledge with others around her, but her heart as well by volunteering at neighborhood schools that goes undocumented. She shares herself with others because her love of teaching and advocating for students with disabilities is sincere, and very genuine,” Davis continued. 

The Cato College of Education’s special education Ph.D. program has long been recognized as a top program nationally, a position Browder’s colleagues say is closely associated with her efforts. Most recently, based on data generated by Academic Analytics (2017) the program is tied for 5th in grant dollars generated, 4th in market share of scholarly productivity, and 2nd in doctoral degrees produced among special education programs across the nation.

In 2011, Browder was the recipient of the O. Max Gardner Award, the UNC System’s highest faculty honor, for “making the greatest contribution to the welfare of the human race.” In 2017, she moved into a three year phased retirement, during which she will continue to teach undergraduate courses.

“As Dr. Browder transitions to a new chapter in her life and career, her service to the field of special education and to the cause of demonstrating that individuals with disabilities can reach high expectations, if only given opportunity, takes on new forms and directions,” Davis said.

Dr. Browder was honored with the Burton-Blatt Humanitarian Award at 2018 DADD International Conference in Clearwater, Florida.


The Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities is an organization composed of persons committed to enhancing the quality of life of individuals, especially children and youth, with autism, intellectual disability and other developmental disabilities. The Division seeks to further the knowledge base of the field, thus ensuring the continued advancement of positive educational and life outcomes for those with autism and developmental disabilities.