An anonymous donor has given a $2 million estate gift to UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz Graduate School of Education.

The funds will establish The Michael M. Gerber Chair in Instructional Innovation and Technology for Exceptional Children, an amplification and extension of the Gevirtz School’s more than 30-year commitment to research in the field of special education. The new chair is named in honor of Dr. Michael Gerber, longtime professor in the Department of Education and a leader in the field of special education, disabilities and risk studies.

“We are very grateful for this generous gift,” says Merith Cosden, acting dean of the Gevirtz School. “It highlights the importance the Gevirtz School places on helping underserved populations.”

This gift establishes the first endowed chair in the Gevirtz School, and is one of the largest such gifts to UCSB. An endowed chair of this stature will allow the Gevirtz School to recruit and retain world-class faculty at the intersection of instructional innovation and technology and special education. Support from this gift will furnish chair incumbents with funding to pursue cutting-edge research and recruit top graduate students dedicated to that research.

“We are happy to be able to honor such a wise and wonderful man such as Mike,” the donor says. “Most of the folks who toil in your fields never get the recognition they deserve. … I hope that we will be able to help continue the fine work Mike has been able to do at UCSB and we look forward to a warm, long relationship with the Education Department.”

Gerber is a professor of education, and contributing faculty in the Special Education, Disabilities, and Risk and the Policy Leadership and Research Methods research focus areas. From 2005-2009 he was the chair of the Department of Education. Gerber has been the director of the Center for Advanced Studies of Individual Differences in the Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research. He is also a founding member of UCSB’s Interdisciplinary Graduate Emphasis in Cognitive Science. He has been president of the Division for Learning Disabilities in the Council for Exceptional Children. He is also the chair of the steering committee for an UC-wide Center for Research on Special Education, Disabilities, and Developmental Risk.

“Of course, I am deeply honored and humbled to have my name associated with this extraordinary endowment,” Gerber says. “I think it really represents not only the creative efforts of many students and colleagues over the years, but also high confidence in the future for education innovation and research at UCSB over the decades to come. For that I am most grateful.”

— George Yatchisin for the UCSB Gevirtz Graduate School of Education.