VCU's President Rao, Ruth Harris, and Dr. Paul Gerber.

From left to right:  Michael Rao, president of Virginia Commonwealth University and VCU Health System, Ruth Harris, and Paul Gerber, Ph.D.
In 2010, Dr. Gerber was the first names Ruth Harris Endowed Professor.



The Ruth Harris Professorship in Dyslexia Studies was established at the VCU School of Education in 2010 through a generous gift from Dr. Louis and Ruth Harris that was initially made in 2007. The fund seeks to enhance the work in reading disabilities, in particular, dyslexia and other language learning disabilities.

Ruth Harris, a pioneer in the treatment of dyslexia, dedicated her life to helping others with learning disabilities after her third-grade son displayed persistent trouble with reading, writing, and spelling. Louis and Ruth Harris requested the support of the VCU School of Education in identifying and supporting children with dyslexia, a learning disability involving difficulties in acquiring and processing language.  

Ruth Harris passed away at 94 on May 26, 2014.  Louis S. Harris, Ph.D., who served on the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine faculty for 44 years, passed away on June 10, 2019.  

Mr. Chuck Harris, the only child of the late Dr. and Mrs. Harris, now represents the Ruth and Louis Harris Foundation and works closely with the VCU School of Education’s Office of Development, Alumni, and Student Engagement

Today, the Ruth Harris Professorship of Dyslexia Studies is known as the Ruth Harris Professorship. The professorship supports faculty and doctoral student research in the field of dyslexia education and funds workshops, virtual events, presentations, and the annual Dyslexia Symposium which features nationally recognized leaders in the field of reading.

“I want to see every education student learn the characteristics of dyslexia so they can identify the condition early and get help for those children,” said Ruth Harris, M.Ed. “It takes high-quality faculty for a university to be successful, and one way to achieve that is through endowed professorships.”

The first endowed professorship ever established at the VCU School of Education, the Ruth Harris Professorship does not provide additional salary monies or compensation for the named professor.

However, the professorship compensates for an hourly doctoral or graduate assistant to help implement initiatives and programs and supports the following: 

  • Ruth Harris Fellow, a VCU faculty member with a dedicated interest in reading education and effective teacher preparation who leads a team that coordinates the Ruth Harris Initiatives
  • Ph.D.-level graduate assistant (GA) with a research focus and practice interest in dyslexia or other language learning/reading disabilities
  • Ruth Harris Student Worker to provide administrative support, data input/analysis, and other tasks as assigned for ongoing efforts focused on students with dyslexia and language learning disabilities
  • Collaborating with faculty members from various departments in our School
  • The development of an annual professional development program for educators in the community, one for parents and/or schoolchildren with language learning/reading disabilities, as well as continuing the annual Ruth Harris Lecture Series (now known as the Dyslexia Symposium)