Scholarship on disabilities and the policies shaping university research

Media Guide

What we do at the Merrill Center

What is the Merrill Advanced Studies Center?

The Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies>> is the largest designated research center at the University of Kansas, with nearly 40 years of continuous funding by the National Institutes of Health. It enjoys a national reputation for excellence in both research and clinical services. The Merrill Center is one of 12 in the Life Span Institute, and shares its reputation for cutting-edge research in human development, disability, and gerontology. The Center is directed by Mabel L. Rice, Ph.D.>>, a leading authority on language disabilities in children.

How is it funded?

The Merrill Center was created in 1990 with a generous endowment from Virginia and Fred Merrill of Leawood, Kansas. They continue to support the mission of the Center as benefactors and members of the Board of Directors.

What does the Center do?

The Center hosts small working conferences on hot topics in science and policy. From its scientific conferences, edited collections are published commercially. In-house, the Center publishes a series of papers on The Research Mission of Public Universities.

In the KnowIn The Know is a public outreach project of the Merrill Center. It contains articles and fact sheets written for the general public about aging, children's development, and the latest science in the area of disability research.

What is unique about the Center?

World-class experts often meet as a group for the first time at Merrill conferences. From this experience they develop nationally competitive projects that answer key questions in science. The Center excels at building bridges between academic disciplines and institutions. In science today, no single discipline can unravel the causes of disability, the process of aging, or the mystery of human development. Merrill books organize new research approaches by involving experts from the fields of neuroscience, psychology, behavioral science, education, and communication disorders.

The Merrill Center has also become a catalyst for policy issues in academe. At its conference on libraries and electronic publishing in 2000, 36 participants issued a statement of principles that has been widely used to change the way scientific findings are published and used. In 2001, conference participants from the University of Kansas, the Stowers Institute in Kansas City, and the University of Missouri at Kansas City formed KC-CEL to pursue their vision of a Biomed Valley in the region.

What are its products?

Six edited scientific books are available from commercial printers. They represent innovative approaches to solving human disability issues. 

The Merrill Center also self-publishes a series on The Research Mission of Public Universities. Seventeen publications are available online and in print.

In The Know publishes online articles and fact sheets in these areas:


One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
—ALA
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times
KU Today