Eleazar “Trey” Vasquez, a professor of exceptional student education, has been named an American Council on Education Fellow. He will join the 2021-2022 class of the ACE Fellows Program, a leadership development initiative designed to identify and prepare faculty, staff, and administrators for senior positions in college and university leadership.

Since joining UCF in 2008, Vasquez’s research has been supported by over $17.5 million from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs. His research focuses on teaching students with autism spectrum disorders using technology within STEM-related learning environments.

“It is an honor to be one of the few chosen to participate in the ACE Fellows Program,” says Vasquez, who holds a joint appointment with UCF’s Learning Science faculty cluster. “I’ve received an incredible opportunity to work alongside university presidents and provosts from across the nation, obtaining hands-on experience and learning what it takes to be a leader at this level.”

The program condenses years of on-the-job experience and skill development into a single year by combining retreats and interactive learning opportunities. Fellows will visit other campuses and higher education-related organizations and be placed at another higher education institution.

During their placement, fellows observe and work with the president and other senior officers at their host institution, attend decision-making meetings and focus on issues of interest.

While the year ahead will present many opportunities for ACE fellows to observe leadership in action, the placement institutions will also benefit by having an experienced leader who can lend a fresh perspective to emerging or ongoing institutional challenges.

“The fellowship program will help inform my leadership style and presence,” says Vasquez. “I’m looking forward to working with a national network of leaders, people who can make a collective impact on the various stakeholders of higher education institutions.”

At the conclusion of the program, fellows return to their home institution with new knowledge and skills that contribute to capacity-building efforts, along with a network of peers across the country and abroad.

“Dr. Vasquez represents the kind of innovative research, problem-solving thoughtfulness and leadership that are hallmarks of the ACE program,” says Pamela S. Carroll, dean of the UCF College of Community Innovation and Education. “I am eager to follow his progress through this prestigious fellowship, and I know that UCF will benefit from what he learns and brings back to us from his experiences.”

In addition to his faculty appointments, Vasquez serves as the director of the Toni Jennings Exceptional Education Institute. Through federally funded teacher preparation projects, the institute prepares educators and other professionals to work with children and adults with disabilities. The institute also serves children and their families through teaching and research clinics. He is also an affiliate faculty member for the Synthetic Reality Lab and the Lockheed Martin/UCF Academy for Mathematics and Science.