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Dr. Bill Frankenberger Honored with
WSPA Lifetime Achievement Award

RELEASED: Nov. 21, 2007

Dr. William Frankenberger
Dr. William Frankenberger

EAU CLAIRE — A University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire psychology professor and nationally known expert on issues that relate to attention deficit disorder has received the Wisconsin School Psychology Association's highest honor.

The state organization presented its Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. William Frankenberger, recognizing his many contributions to the welfare of children in Wisconsin and to the field of psychology.

"I think my professional legacy will be the students I've had over the years," said Frankenberger, who began teaching psychology classes at UW-Eau Claire in 1979 and has served as the director of the Human Development Center since 1986. "I love teaching; my students have enriched my life. I've had many students who were bright and ambitious when they were in college, and are now successfully working in schools throughout Wisconsin."

Scott Moline — a school psychologist in Onalaska who is one of Frankenberger's former students — presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Frankenberger.

Frankenberger said it was especially moving to have a former student present the award and to have many former students and all of his current graduate students at the event where the award was presented.

"I am very proud of the accomplishments I've seen made by many of the graduates from our school psychology program," said Frankenberger, who has helped train more than 300 school psychologists. "I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with them."

Frankenberger — who is just the second person to serve as director of the HDC — helped establish an educational specialist degree program at UW-Eau Claire, a program that allows psychology students to continue their education beyond their master's program.

"Our program always had a strong reputation for quality so we were able to attract great students," Frankenberger said. "But the educational specialist degree program made the program even more attractive. We saw an increase in the number of students from other states who came because they could continue their studies here after completing their master's degree. Many of those students stayed in the state after graduation and are now doing great things in schools throughout Wisconsin."

Frankenberger's willingness to include his students in cutting-edge research also attracts top students to the program. By the time they graduate, many of his students have had their research published in prestigious professional journals and elsewhere.

Moline said during the award presentation that he was impressed by Frankenberger's dedication to the kind of independent research that is not always initially acknowledged or financially rewarded.

"One of the reasons I chose to enroll in the UW-Eau Claire school psychology program was to have the opportunity to conduct ADHD research with Dr. Frankenberger," Moline said. "Under his direction, I was able to contribute to a vein of research that he was investigating and to write a thesis that could eventually be published in a journal.

"One thing that always struck me about Dr. Frankenberger was his practice of using students as primary authors of publications. Not all professors choose to do this, but I see this simply as part of Dr. Frankenbergers humility. I also see this as a result of his program being very student-centered. This has been, of course, part of his success, as well as part of the success of his students."

Much of Frankenberger's research has focused on ADHD-related issues, including the use of medication to treat the disorder. His research often was considered controversial because its findings differed significantly from other studies, he said.

"Our research findings have consistently called into question the need for kids to be diagnosed with and medicated for ADHD at such early ages," Frankenberger said. "We were the first to point out the side affects from the medications, and we were the first to provide research that found that middle and high school kids were selling their medications."

Frankenberger said no one has proven that anything he and his student researchers has published has been wrong, Frankenberger said. And recent research by others in the field has begun supporting his earlier findings, he said.

"I think the tide is turning," Frankenberger said. "People are waking up and realizing that unless you have good evidence to support it, you should not give medications to young children. There are certain populations of kids that need medication to function, but it's a much smaller population than is now being medicated."

Frankenberger's research findings have been published in some of the leading professional journals, and have been featured by media, including the USA Today newspaper, Better Homes and Gardens magazine, Popular Science and several major television channels. He also has more than 80 presentations to various professional groups throughout the state and country.

In addition to his work at UW-Eau Claire, Frankenberger also has helped shape policies at the state level that relate to education issues. He currently serves on a committee that will redefine how schools identify and support young children with academic deficiencies.

"Right now, students must fall far behind before they can get the help they need," said Frankenberger, who worked with his students to provide the state committee with statistical information they needed as they considered policy changes. "These are significant changes, changes that will allow schools to identify children as young as kindergarten who have academic difficulties. The idea is to get them support before they fail. It's a major shift in how we think about children with learning disabilities."

In addition to the Wisconsin School Psychology Association's Lifetime Achievement Award, Frankenberger has received other numerous awards and honors. He received UW-Eau Claire's 2007 Excellence in ServiceFaculty Mentor Award and the university's 2000 Excellence in Scholarship award. In 1989, he received the university's Excellence in Teaching Award.

In 1995, Frankenberger received the Wisconsin Professor of the Year award from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

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NW/JB

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