Kevin Sutherland is a professor in the Department of Counseling and Special Education. Dr. Sutherland also serves as director of the department’s doctoral studies program. He has been a principal investigator or co-investigator on federally-funded projects — totaling more than $26 million — that involve the development and evaluation of evidence-based programs in schools, and has created assessment tools to examine teachers’ fidelity to and adequacy of implementing these programs in classrooms. Dr. Sutherland’s research interests are emotional/behavioral disorders, intervention development, and treatment implementation and fidelity. He’s currently working on a Tier 2 intervention (BEST in CLASS) designed to address the needs of young elementary students who demonstrate persistent and intensive challenging behaviors, which place them at future risk for developing social, emotional and behavioral disorders. The BEST in CLASS intervention is designed to enhance and support early childhood teachers use of effective instructional practices that can help prevent young children’s challenging behaviors and support learning. The project is currently finishing its second year and Dr. Sutherland would like to see the project become long term. He is also interested in middle school violence prevention. In order to gain a better understanding of his work he recommends that students read Sutherland et al. (2008), published in the Journal of Special Education.
Dr. Sutherland’s work as a faculty member consists of many meetings, commitments to current projects, days solely committed to research team meetings, lab meetings, planning, decision making, training, collecting data, and interfacing with teachers. Due to the multiple research projects and responsibilities as a professor, new challenges come up everyday. Some of the challenges arise from the large staff he supervises, writing manuscripts, and reviewing grants for IES. Also, due to his busy schedule he usually only teaches one class a semester. When Dr. Sutherland steps away from the rigor of the day/week he likes to run and play basketball, he also loves to cook and eat. Cooking is something Dr. Sutherland finds peace in. He enjoys having friends and family around for dinner, hosting dinner and holiday parties. He says his grandmother taught him, “food is love.” Additionally, he sets aside time during the evenings or at night to read a novel or content such as the Sunday New York Times for at least 30 minutes.
During graduate school, Dr. Sutherland appreciated his advisor and the opportunities he provided for growth and personal development. His advisor was personable and had an open door policy. His advisor helped him develop better time management and prioritization skills. His advisor also contributed to his research interests. Interestingly, Dr. Sutherland had the same advisor as fellow colleague and VCU professor Jason Chow. Dr. Sutherland recommends students take advantage of the growth and opportunities provided by the program and department, he also suggest students take a lot of research methods classes. He specifically suggests taking statistics methods based on the study you plan to complete. He also encourages students to own their research and be skilled, knowledgeable, and organized.
Interview conducted by: Evandra Catherine, doctoral student, Special Education and Disability Policy