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September  2018


the center welcomes our new dorothy w. goodwin endowed chair in special education,

dr. fred volkmar!


volmar. 2

Fred R. Volkmar, M.D., comes to Southern from his position as Irving B. Harris Professor of Child Psychiatry, Pediatrics, and Psychology at Yale University, Child Study Center where he served for 8 years as Director of the Center. A graduate of the University of Illinois and Stanford, Dr. Volkmar completed residency training in adult psychiatry and then a Fellowship in Child Psychiatry at the Yale University's School of Medicine. He has dedicated his career to understanding and treating children with developmental disorders and is a leader in the field of autism research. He has served as a teacher and mentor to many trainees some of whom are now leaders in the field. Dr. Vollkmar's grants and publications run just short of 100 pages in his CV. He is editor of the Journal of Autism, a gifted clinician and teacher and his contributions have greatly improved the lives of children suffering from developmental disorders and their families. 





July  2017


the center welcomes our new director,

dr. kari sassu!


 Our former director, Dr. Ruth Eren, passes the baton with these words:

Dear Visitors,

It is with some sadness that I write this letter informing you of my decision to retire from Southern Connecticut State University as of June 1, 2017 and consequently as Director of the SCSU Center of Excellence on Autism Spectrum Disorders.

It has been an honor and privilege to serve as the Director of the Center of Excellence on Autism Spectrum Disorders and to hold the distinguished position of the Dorothy W. Goodwin Endowed Chair. In both of these positions, I have had the unique opportunity to work alongside many accomplished and caring colleagues in the Center and in the greater autism community. I have also had the opportunity to meet and collaborate with many outstanding teachers, related service personnel, and administrators who serve children on the spectrum in our schools. In all of my endeavors with those who support individuals on the spectrum I have been left with a positive belief that we are continuously improving our ability to understand and serve this wonderful population of individuals who bring to us so many strengths, joys and yes, challenges!

It is a pleasure to relinquish the leadership of the Center to our new director,  Dr. Kari Sassu, a colleague and friend who has been a member of the Center team for the past two years. Kari Sassu, Ph.D., NCSP, currently serves as the Coordinator of  Research and Development in the Center . Since joining the team in 2015, she has contributed to the development of workshops and training modules for school-based personnel who work with students with ASDs. Dr. Sassu also serves as an Associate Professor and Coordinator of School Psychology programs at Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU). She has worked with individuals with ASDs in public schools and private settings, conducting assessments, developing individualized plans, and providing supports that capitalize on individual strengths. Her professional experience includes service as a public school psychology practitioner, coordinating the implementation of system-wide Positive Behavioral Supports across multiple school districts, and conducting neuropsychological evaluations of children and young adults within a practice of clinical psychologists. Dr. Sassu earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Psychological Services, both from the University of Pennsylvania. She holds a Master’s degree and Sixth Year Professional Diploma in School Psychology from the University of Connecticut, a Sixth Year Professional Diploma in Educational Leadership from Southern Connecticut State University, and a doctorate in Educational Psychology from the University of Connecticut. She is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) and holds certifications as both a school psychologist and a school administrator in the state of Connecticut. Dr. Sassu is the mother of three children, one of whom has an ASD.  It is truly a joy to leave the Center leadership to someone as capable, knowledgeable and caring as Dr. Sassu.

Now it is time for me to move on.  Although I will be leaving the Center and the university, I hope, in some way, to continue to contribute to the many efforts in this state, country and world that will enhance the education and lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorders.

In closing, I wish to express my sincere gratitude to Dean Stephen Hegedus for his leadership, guidance and enthusiastic support of the Center of Excellence on Autism Spectrum Disorders, the very dedicated, talented and committed faculty and staff who comprise the Center team and to you and all the people whose paths I have crossed in my work, especially those children and young adults on the spectrum. You have all taught me so much and I will always treasure my time with each and every one of you.  It has been an honor and privilege to serve as the Center director  and to serve individuals on the spectrum.  The work here at the Center will always be considered the highlight of my long career in education.

With warmest regards and sincere thanks to all who have made my journey in education so joyful and fulfilling,

Ruth Eren, Ed.D.