Martin Kaufman, former dean of the College of Education and a catalyst for the development of the HEDCO Building, passed away June 1 at the Pete Moore Hospice House from complications related to Alzheimer's disease.
Born Martin Joel Kaufman on Sept. 22, 1941, in New York City, Kaufman — “Marty” to his many friends — earned his undergraduate and master's degrees from the College of William and Mary, and his doctorate in special education from the University of Texas, Austin.
Kaufman’s career in education spanned five decades until his retirement from the University of Oregon in 2010. From his earliest work, Kaufman’s career was guided by the passionate desire to drive innovation in education in order to meet the ever-evolving and diverse needs of students and to empower teachers with a broad skill set to rise to the challenges of student education.
"I reflect on Marty's legacy, and that of other prior deans, on a daily basis,” said Randy Kamphaus, the current dean of the College of Education. “Marty's contributions, however, were remarkable for their impact. He ensured the survival of our college when we were faced with the prospect of elimination in the early 1990s. He used his extraordinary intellect and determination to rebuild our college over the course of his deanship and lay the foundation for our current success. Few academic leaders have achieved such feats. I feel honored every day to have the opportunity to build on his legacy.”
Early in his career he was recruited by the U.S. Department of Education to help craft plans to meet the requirements of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1970. His research as the director of the Division for Innovation and Development was instrumental in the development of curriculum and programs for the U.S. Office of Special Education that he served for more than 22 years.
He was well known and respected as an advocate for students with special needs. In 2001 the Council for Exceptional Children presented Kaufman with the J.E. Wallace Wallin Special Education Lifetime Achievement Award for his decades of work on research and innovative program development.
Kaufman was the catalyst to initiate funding for the HEDCO Building, which opened in 2009.
Kaufman was named dean of the College of Education at the UO in 1992 and served in that role for 18 years. He is widely credited with turning around the then-struggling college and guiding it to national recognition by leading research efforts and implementing innovative academic programs.
He worked with a range of educators and administrators throughout the state to address the evolving needs of students, especially those with special needs. He was deeply committed to research and driving innovation in special education.
During his tenure, the College of Education became the No. 3 college for special education in the country. As well as a respected administrator and researcher, Kaufman was a visionary. He recognized the potential for further growth as well as the need for a new facility that would serve as a home for that growth.
Kaufman was instrumental in leading efforts to establish a new state-of-the-art, multiuse building that would accommodate expanded programs as well as help with faculty recruitment and retention. Recognizing the need for additional teaching and research facilities, he focused his passion on capital development efforts, ultimately helping raise $50 million to construct the HEDCO Education Building and clinic, which celebrates its 10-year anniversary this fall term.
—By James Eastwood, College of Education