Dr. Dawn Hunter is a nationally recognized expert in the field of special education. She currently serves as a Professor within the College of Educational Studies at Chapman University, the Director of the Ph.D. program and teaches both doctoral and undergraduate students. Prior to her work at Chapman, Dr. Hunter served as the Branch Chief of the Severe Disabilities Branch (SDB), U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs in Washington, D.C. In this position she was responsible for the administration of national discretionary projects (e.g., research, demonstration, technical assistance, outreach, systems change, information dissemination, training) funded under the Program for Children with Severe Disabilities, the Services for Children and Youth with Deaf-Blindness Program, the Regional Resource Center Program, and the National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY). In addition, she also was responsible for developing policies, regulations, national priorities, and strategies for facilitating innovative and effective educational practices and services for children with disabilities. Dr. Hunter represented the United States at numerous international events sponsored by OECD or UNESCO.
Dr. Hunter's experience also includes teaching high school students and adults with severe disabilities, designing and coordinating educational, vocational, residential and recreational programs for students with disabilities, and monitoring the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) at the federal level. She has served as an expert witness, protecting the legal and civil rights of people with disabilities, on numerous federal court cases. In addition, she has made countless presentations to parents of children with disabilities, professional organizations, teachers, administrators, policy makers, and governmental agencies both within the United States and abroad on a wide range of topics relevant to serving children and adults with disabilities. Dr. Hunter has also provided technical assistance and support to school districts, State educational agencies, federal agencies, and other countries in developing and implementing effective educational policies and practices.
Dr. Hunter has publications in the areas of inclusive schooling, building collaborative partnerships, positive behavioral support strategies for students with challenging behaviors, changing attitudes toward persons with disabilities, post secondary options for students with disabilities, vocational and leisure skills training, policy development, and systems change. The third edition of her book “The Road Ahead: Transition to Adult Life for Persons with Disabilities” was published in 2014. Dr. Hunter’s most recent research interests are in the areas of international perspectives on disability, understanding the role of compassion in education, and effective teaching pedagogy in higher education.
Dr. Hunter has won numerous awards for her teaching (e.g., Valerie Scudder Award; The National Society of Leadership and Success - Excellence in Teaching Award; Dean’s Teaching Merit Fellowship). The most recent teaching awards include the “Outstanding Teaching Professorship Award” (the highest faculty teaching award at Chapman University) in 2012 and “Chapman’s Best Class” (nominated by students and presented by the Office of Housing and Residential Life, 2013) for her class titled “The Philosophy of Helping.”