Sheldon, Jan

Year Inducted: 
  • Professor of Applied Behavioral Science and Courtesy Professor Law, University of Kansas
  • Founded the Community Living Opportunities
  • Founded the Truancy Prevention and Diversion Program 

For the past forty years, Dr. Jan Sheldon has served as a leader in advancing the quality of life for women and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and at-risk youth through her research, teaching, service provision, and advocacy.  Her work has changed the way in which disability is understood, promoting changes to policies, practices, and models of service.  And through her work to ensure that women have access to support structures necessary for success, Sheldon has directly improved the lives of women in Kansas.

                Sheldon attended the University of Kansas, where she received her undergraduate and master’s degrees in Human Development and Family Life (now Applied Behavioral Science) and her Ph.D. in Developmental Child Psychology.  After receiving her degree from the KU School of Law, Sheldon was hired as a faculty member in HDFL, where she set out to follow her two passions: helping individuals with developmental disabilities and youth involved in the juvenile justice system. Sheldon helped found Community Living Opportunities and developed the Truancy Prevention and Diversion Program. She also has served as the Director of the Edna A. Hill Child Development Center and is a Courtesy Professor of Law.

Sheldon’s impact as an academic and a mentor is significant.  She has authored or co-authored 3 books, 19 book chapters, and over 50 journal articles on enhancing the lives of children and families and has helped secure over $2.5 million in grants to do the same. Equally important is her role as an advisor and mentor, as is highlighted by the words of this student: “As an advisor, Dr. Sheldon has taught me the meaning of hard-work, determination, empathy, passion, and overall kindness. She has taught me to settle for nothing less than greatness… She has opened my eyes to the hardships faced by individuals and families living in our community and has increased my confidence in my ability to help them.”

For her contributions to teaching and service, she has received numerous awards, including the: Mortar Board Outstanding Educator Award; Kemper Teaching Fellow Award,, Rotary International Award; ABS Undergraduate Classroom Teaching Excellence Award; Steeples Service to Kansans Award; KU Women of Distinction Designation; J. Michael Young Academic Advising Award; and Distinguished Contributions to Behavior Analysis Award. 

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