First UNC Yoder Distinguished Professorship awarded to Karen Erickson

Wednesday, February 18, 2009 — Karen Erickson, Ph.D., director of the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, has been selected as the first David E. and Dolores J. (Dee) Yoder Distinguished Professor in Literacy and Disability Studies in the school’s allied health sciences department.

The Yoder Distinguished Professorship was established through a gift from Maynard and Carolyn Sauder of Archbold, Ohio, as a tribute to the professionalism, teaching and research of David E. Yoder, Ph.D, and the support of his wife, Dee.

Dr. William Roper, dean of the School of Medicine, vice chancellor for medical affairs at the University and CEO of UNC Health Care, said the school’s strength in the field of communication disorders research was due in large part to the leadership provided by Yoder and Erickson. “How fitting it is that we recognize David Yoder and his contributions to and leadership in the field by selecting Karen Erickson as the inaugural Yoder Distinguished Professor,” he said.

Yoder established the UNC Center for Literacy and Disability Studies in 1988 to help address concerns he first developed early in his career as a speech-language pathologist that many people with significant communication disorders lacked the one skill that would allow them to communicate fully with others – literacy.

Erickson directs several research and development efforts addressing the literacy, learning and communication needs of people with disabilities. Her current research efforts involve school-aged students who struggle to read and write or who have complex communication needs, and children, adolescents and young adults with multiple disabilities, including deaf-blindness.

Yoder is professor emeritus of speech and hearing sciences at UNC. He was chair of the department of allied health sciences from 1986-2000. He co-founded the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies along with David Koppenhaver, Ph.D., now a professor at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. Yoder recently retired as executive director of the Council for Allied Health in North Carolina.

UNC Center for Literacy and Disability Studies Web site:

Note: For more information about Erickson and Yoder, visit, or contact Kyle Gray at (919) 966-3352 or

News Services contact: Patric Lane, (919) 962-8596,


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