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Warren Wheelock with one of his first classes at PS 201 in New York City, 1962.

A lifetime of giving

Largest individual gift will assist reading education students

The first commitment – 40 years

Warren Wheelock, Ph.D. – who holds a dual doctorate in reading education and psychology – arrived at the UMKC School of Education (SOE) in 1967. He spent the next 40 years using his knowledge in both areas to help students in reading education.

As if 40 years weren't enough, he now has provided a gift to aid students interested in reading education for years to come.

Advancing his dedication to students: Estate commitment to the SOE

Dr. Wheelock, professor emeritus, and his wife, Dr. Connie J. Campbell, an SOE alumna, recently announced an estate gift commitment to the SOE valued at approximately $1 million. The gift will fund the Dr. Warren Wheelock Scholarship in Reading Education, providing scholarships for students who study reading in the SOE. This is the largest individual gift commitment in the school's history.

“With this commitment, Drs. Wheelock and Campbell have ensured the longevity of a scholarship that will prepare the next generation of reading teachers,” said Leo E. Morton, UMKC Chancellor. “I thank them for their foresight and dedication to UMKC and the School of Education.”

The scholarship was established in 1995 by Kathleen and Robert B. Rogers – past president of the Kauffman Foundation – to honor Wheelock and his contributions to education.

"We are blessed to have had the opportunity to work with both Connie and Warren especially as it relates to the special education needs of our grandson, Nick, who is severely dyslexic but now is pursuing an engineering degree at DeVry University," said Rogers. "The 'good doctors' know that fulfillment in life comes from knowing they have made such a positive difference in the lives of others."

An era in reading education

By the time he began working in the UMKC Reading Department, Wheelock had already decided to focus on the psychology of students with reading or learning dysfunction. And – over the course of 40 years – he conducted approximately 3,000 individual diagnostic studies. His assessments involved the intellectual, cognitive, emotional and social profiles of students.

One example of what he confirmed through his research shows that often students have the functional skills to read or learn, but they are not doing so.

"The child's energy and motivation to read become blocked by anxiety and fears of inadequacy. Sometimes this is a result of children associating reading with parental pressure to achieve beyond their capacity," said Wheelock. "As they approach reading tasks, they feel overwelmed and want to avoid reading altogether."

Also, Wheelock co-authored "Classroom Reading Inventory," a book used in higher education to instruct teachers in understanding and diagnosing specific reading performance. According to McGraw-Hill, this book was the leading national reading inventory text.

Wheelock also served as a forensic educational expert in 70 capital murder or felony trials, impacting the decisions of juries in some death penalty cases. In such cases, Wheelock assisted the defense in documenting defendants' extenuating circumstances for consideration by the jury. Such circumstances are those that might mitigate the intent of the crime, including a diagnosis of mental retardation or severe childhood neglect and abuse.

Common goals

Like her husband, Dr. Campbell has devoted her career to education in numerous capacities; he worked with individuals, but she worked with large-scale systems. Her focus was on collaboration and cooperation among school districts in applying evidence-based research, implementing new governmental policies and improving staff development and instructional systems.

"We complement each other. Warren enjoys continuing to serve the School of Education after his 40-year career," said Campbell. "I value supporting specialization in the field of reading, which powerfully prepares teachers for meaningful teaching interventions with children whose futures depend on learning and loving reading."

Campbell led the Learning Exchange as its President for more than 20 years, which became a national leader in experiential learning as demonstrated by their flagship immersive learning programs, EarthWorks and Exchange City. Campbell took these programs national as the founding CEO of Experiencia, Inc., expanding into more than 20 states. After retiring from that position, Campbell now is president of her own consulting firm, CW Interventions.

According to Campbell, CWI researches, designs and evaluates scalable learning systems and allows her to continue her career as a learning systems consultant.

“Professor Emeritus Wheelock and Dr. Campbell have both made significant contributions to the field of education during their distinguished careers,” said Wanda Blanchett, Dean of the UMKC School of Education. “They have positively impacted many students, teachers and schools. This gift continues their legacy of serving others.”

Posted: September 27, 2010

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"I value supporting specialization in the field of reading, which powerfully prepares teachers for meaningful teaching interventions with children whose futures depend on learning and loving reading."

Dr. Connie J. Campbell

Connie Campbell says kids have always taken an instant liking to her husband, professor emeritus Warren Wheelock. Here, Wheelock and three boys from UMKC's Reading Clinic go for a walk.