Susan Fowler is a retired faculty member whose research has related to families of young children with developmental delays and issues involving access to early intervention and early care and education services. She received her doctorate in child development from the University of Kansas in 1979 and has served on the faculty at the University of Illinois since 1990 as department head, associate dean and dean of the college. She retired in January 2016. She has also served on the national level as president of the Division of Early Childhood (DEC) of the Council of Exceptional Children (CEC) (1992), president of CEC (2009) and of the Higher Education Consortium of Special Education (HECSE) (1998-99). Dr. Fowler has an extensive history of federal and state funding for her research and scholarship; federal funding has come from NIMH, OSEP in the USDE, HHS, and at the state level from the Board of Education and Human Services. She served on many editorial boards as a reviewer or associate editor. She most recently directed three state funded projects that provide information to families and teachers working with children birth to five as well as policy makers and co-directed a doctoral leadership grant for students pursuing doctorates in the area of early childhood special education and EI.

Key Professional Appointments

Professor Special Education, University of Illinois, 1993 - present

Dean College of Education, University of Illinois, 2000 - 2006

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs College of Education, University of Illinois, 1996 - 2000

Department Head Special Education, University of Illinois, 1990 - 1996

Associate Professor Special Education, University of Illinois, 1990 - 1993


Ph.D., Developmental and Child Psychology, University of Kansas, 1979

M.A., Experimental Psychology, Notre Dame University, 1976

B.A., Human Development and Family Life, University of Kansas, 1974

Awards, Honors, Associations

CEC J.E. Wallace Wallin Special Education Lifetime Achievement Award Council for Exceptional Children, 2018 - 2018

College of Education Service Award College of Education, 2014 - 2014

Research & Service

Fowler’s research focuses on services for families and very young children (birth to age 8) who have developmental disabilities or delays or are at risk due to multiple factors including poverty. She often examine the coordination of services for families and the transition from one program to another. Including children with disabilities in community programs, supporting teachers in differentiating their instruction, and assessing state and national policy issues around the provision of services for very young children represent her most prominent themes. Her graduate students participate actively in her research and scholarship. Recently she and colleagues have looked at: identifying systemic policy and practice changes at state and local levels necessary to increase access to services for families living in poverty; evaluating innovative strategies at the local level to promote effective practices; studying the inclusion of children with developmental delays in community based programs; and promoting the translation of research findings to practice as evidence based strategies. Currently she serves as the P.I. on multiple state grants which have well resourced websites for professionals and families who seek resources, translated from research, for children between birth and school age.


Corr, C., Santos, R., & Fowler, S. (2016) Families Living in Poverty and the Components of Early Intervention Services: A review of the literature Topics in Early Childhood Special Education 36, 55-64

Fowler, S., YATES , T., & Ostrosky, M. (2011) Professional Development for early childhood intervention. Early childhood intervention: Programs and policies for special needs children . ABC-CLIO Publishers,: Santa Barbara, CA..

Fowler, S., Yates, T., & Ostrosky, M. (2011) Professional development  for early childhood intervention:  Current status and future directions. Early childhood intervention: Programs and policies for special needs children ABC-CLIO Publishers: Santa Barbara, CA..

Fowler, S. (2010) Early transition of children with special needs. International Encyclopedia of Education Elsevier: Oxford

Jagatheesen, B., Miller, P., & Fowler, S. (2010) Autism from a religious perspective:  A study of parental beliefs in South Asian Muslim immigrant families Focus on Autism and Other  Developmental Disabilities 25, 98-109

Fowler, S., Bloom, P., Talan, T., Beneke, S., & Kelton, R. (2008) Who’s caring for the kids? The Status of early childhood workforce in Illinois—2008 National Louis University: Chicago

Fowler, S., Yates, T., & Lewman, B. (2007) Using a weekly story to plan creative activities and promote early literacy in preschool Gifted Children Today 30, 27-33

Fowler, S., Ostrosky, M., & Yates, T. (2006) Teaching and learning in the early years. Handbook of special education Sage: UK

Corso, R., Fowler, S., & Santos, R. (2005) Building healthy relationships with families Sopris West Educational Services: Longmont, CO

Fowler, S., Santos, R., & Corso, R. (2005) Appropriate screening, assessment, and family information gathering Sopris West Educational Services: Longmont, CO

Zhang, C., Fowler, S., & Bennett, T. (2004) The development of the Individualized Family Service Plans in Early Head Start: The need for collaboration between Early Head Start and Early Intervention Early Childhood Education Journal 32, 179-186

Lewman, B., & Fowler, S. (2002) Spark: A preschool curriculum for promoting learning through arts and literacy Redbird Press: St. Paul, MN

Fowler, S., Donegan, M., Luecke, B., Hadden, D., & Phillips, B. (2000) Evaluating community collaboration in writing interagency agreements on the age 3 transition Exceptional Children 67 (1), 35-50

McNeill, J., & Fowler, S. (1999) Let's talk: Encouraging mother-child communication during story reading Journal of Early Intervention 22, 51-69


Principal Investigator Illinois Early Childhood Asset Map Project, Illinois State Board of Education, 2006 - 2017

Co-Principal Investigator DELL-D Developing Early Language and Literacy in Danville, U.S. Department of Education, 2007 - 2011

Principal Investigator Illinois Early Learning Web Site, Illinois State Board of Education, 2001 - 2006


The majority of Fowler's teaching focused on supporting graduate students to understand, conduct and evaluate research to improve their clinical and professional practices.

Susan Fowler

Professor Emerita, Special Education



270D Education Building
1310 S. Sixth St.
Champaign, IL 61820

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