Ruth Luckasson, distinguished professor and the chair of the Department of Special Education in The University of New Mexico's College of Education has been recognized nationally as a champion for people with disabilities.

Luckasson was recently given The Arc Presidential Award during a ceremony at The Arc’s national convention in Orlando.

The Arc was founded in 1950 and was comprised of a small group of concerned and passionate parents and community members who would be catalysts for changing the public perception of children with disabilities.

For the past 60 years, The Arc has continued to grow and evolve along with the changing needs and issues people with disabilities and their families face.

Luckasson’s involvement with The Arc started over 30 years ago. Since 1986, she’s been an active member of The Arc’s Legal Advocacy Committee.

“This award is especially meaningful to me,” said Luckasson. “The Arc represents families and children and adults with intellectual disability and is leading national advocacy for special education so that all students with disabilities can be educated along with their brothers and sisters and friends.”

She added, “This award is special because it has been accomplished with my UNM colleagues in our collaborative efforts to build one of the strongest Special Education preparation programs in the U.S., here at UNM.”

Luckasson is nationally known for her work with law and people with disabilities. She earned her graduate degree in Special Education and her law degree from UNM.

Her work has included a focus on public policy issues affecting individuals with disabilities, the legal rights of persons with disabilities and their families, teacher preparation for those who deal with intellectual disability and severe disabilities, defendants, victims and witnesses with intellectual disability, and clinical judgment in educational diagnosis.