SOE News

UNC-Chapel Hill appoints new director for FPG Child Development Institute

CHAPEL HILL -- Dr. Samuel L. Odom, the Edward and Mary Lou Otting Professor and coordinator of the special education program at Indiana University, has been named director of the Frank Porter Graham (FPG) Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Odom will also serve as a professor in the UNC School of Education.

His appointment is effective August 1.

Odom returns to UNC where he was the William C. Friday Distinguished Professor of Child Development and Family Studies from 1996 to 1998 and led the effort to establish a Ph.D. program in early childhood, literacy and families. Since 1999, he has coordinated Indiana University's special education program.

His research has focused on the needs of people with developmental disabilities, and he is highly regarded nationally for his work with preschool children, peer social relationships, autism spectrum disorder and school readiness.

"Dr. Odom is a leading figure in child development," said Dr. Tony Waldrop, vice chancellor for research and economic development at UNC. "He was an exceptional leader for Indiana, and he becomes a key contributor to our efforts at Carolina to be the nation's leading public research university."

Founded in 1966, FPG is one of the nation's oldest and largest multidisciplinary institutes for the study of young children and their families. The institute's mission is to cultivate and share knowledge to enhance child development and family well being.

Odom, a Nashville, Tenn., native, earned three degrees from the University of Tennessee before receiving his doctorate in special education from the University of Washington in 1982. In addition to UNC and Indiana, he has served on the faculty at Vanderbilt University.

At FPG, Odom succeeds Don Bailey, who had led the institute since 1992. Bailey, now a distinguished fellow at RTI International, retains an appointment as senior fellow emeritus at FPG and adjunct research professor in the UNC School of Education. He will continue his research on newborn screening for developmental disabilities and help to strengthen relationships between FPG and RTI International.

FPG Child Development Institute contact: Tracy Zimmerman, (919) 966-0867 or

News Services contact: Kyle York, (919) 962-8415 or