Mary E. Morningstar

Associate Professor
Joseph R. Pearson Hall

Dr. Mary E. Morningstar is an associate professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of Kansas and Director of the Transition Coalition, which offers online transition professional development and resources for secondary special educators and practitioners. Her research agenda includes evaluating secondary teacher quality and professional development, culturally diverse family involvement in transition planning, and interagency collaboration. She is also examining the impact of inclusive secondary experiences for students with significant disabilities on postschool outcomes. Currently, she is developing a multi-dimensional model of adult life engagement for transition.

Dr. Morningstar coordinates an online masters program, focusing on preparing secondary educators across the country to provide transition education and services to youth with disabilities. She has designed and teaches several of the online classes and is currently coordinating the online masters in transition program. She also coordinates the teacher education program for teachers of students with significant disabilities, and in this role, is working with colleagues to transform special education endorsement coursework to support inclusive practices in schools and the community.

Dr. Morningstar has been involved in training, professional development and research regarding transition from school to adult life for over 25 years. Prior to moving to Kansas, she worked as a teacher for students with significant intellectual disabilities. Mary has been an active advocate for all persons with disabilities based on her experiences as a sibling of a brother with disabilities.

Academic Degrees

  • Ph.D., Special Education, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, 1995
  • M. Ed., Severe Handicaps, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, 1989
  • B.S. Ed, Special Education, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, 1982


Secondary special education and transition to adulthood, online instruction and professional development, and education of students with significant disabilities.

Kansas Teacher Service Scholarship

More info »

Special Education Events
Aug 15
Doctoral Orientation
02:00 pm
Aug 18
New GTA Conference
08:00 am
Aug 21
KU Teaching Summit
08:30 am
View events: Upcoming
Congratulations! Dr. Mike Hock will become the Interim Director of the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning (CRL) tomorrow, August 1, 2014. Mike has served as the Associate Director of the CRL since 2002 and has been affiliated with the CRL since 1990. He has a deep understanding of and appreciation for the Center’s 36-year history and will be the ideal leader for moving the CRL into the future.

Schoolhouse to servitude to dust:

#1 public program in nation for special education
—U.S. News & World Report
2nd nationwide for most published journal articles in special education
Wayne Sailor directs KU’s largest grant, the $24.5 million SWIFT project, to develop a national center to assist schools
A $2.5 million grant will fund research on reasons effective technology tools are underused for students with disabilities