Western Michigan University

Article excerpt

Paul Ponchillia, a professor who has taught and performed research as part of the Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies at Western Michigan University for the past 29 years, retired this summer. After having already having completed a doctorate degree in plant pathology at the University of Iowa in 1970, Dr. Ponchillia began his studies in the field of visual impairment and blindness at Western Michigan University, where he earned a master's degree in blind rehabilitation in 1976. His first position in the field was as a rehabilitation teacher for the Association for the Disabled of Elkhart County in Indiana. Next, he worked as an assistant professor for Northern Illinois University, where he also was in charge of a Rehabilitation Services Administration Training Grant. Dr. Ponchillia is author of over 45 publications in the field of blindness and low vision studies. He coedited, along with his wife, Susan Ponchillia, the seminal textbook Foundations of Rehabilitation Teaching with Persons Who Are Visually Impaired. He has made over 100 presentations in the field of blindness on outcomes of rehabilitation services, orientation and mobility, and physical education and sports. Dr. Ponchillia was responsible for grants in development, outreach, research, and training totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, including the National Sports Education Camps Project, with funding by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), U.S. Department of Education, and the United States Association of Blind Athletes; two training grants in rehabilitation teaching and orientation and mobility, funded by OSERS; a bioengineering research grant to study complex intersections, funded by the National Eye Institute; and a research grant on wayfinding for people who are blind, funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Department of Education. Dr. Ponchillia has been presented with a number of awards and honors, including the 2007 David and Joanne Search Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by the Michigan chapter of the Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER); the 2000 George Card Award, given by the American Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired for outstanding service to people who are blind; and the 1998 C. …