Kinney Center Welcomes New Academic Director

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

PHILADEPHIA (May 29, 2018) — Joseph McCleery, Ph.D., will join the University as assistant professor of psychology and executive director of academic programs for the Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support on Friday, June 1. McCleery will split his time between the Kinney Center and the psychology department to facilitate research projects using Kinney’s resources and programming.

The Kinney Center is dedicated to serving children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), their families, schools, service providers and community. Staff are challenged to approach the autism field in a creative, spirited and meaningful way, and to work to produce the best possible outcomes for those with ASD. 

"Over the past eight years, the Kinney Center has established itself as a top quality clinical intervention and support service provider," says McCleery. "In this next phase of development, we will partner with a number of leading local, national and international clinicians and researchers to both further enhance Kinney services and to support and establish novel evidence-based practices for use by the larger autism service community.”

The Kinney Center offers undergraduate programs such as the SCHOLARS program, standing for Students Committed to Helping Others Learn about Autism Research, where SJU students undergo extensive training to work directly with individuals with autism. For students diagnosed with an ASD, the Kinney Center’s ASPIRE program assists in their transition into college. The program is intended for individuals who have the intellectual, academic and organizational capabilities to succeed as a full-time matriculated student but require additional social support.  

"At the heart of the Kinney Center is a two-fold mission: educating and training future autism professionals and supporting individuals and families that are affected by autism,” says Associate Dean of Social Sciences Matthew Anderson, Ph.D. “As an autism expert and active researcher in the field, Dr. McCleery will oversee and facilitate the various academic aspects of the Kinney Center, helping to connect the mission and work of the Kinney Center to curricular and research enterprises elsewhere in the University and beyond."

McCleery’s research focuses on behavioral and brain functioning and development in individuals with ASD, including behavioral and cognitive-behavorial interventions. Having already published over 30 research papers, he is actively a part of several ongoing research projects, including a National Institutes of Health-funded Science and Technology Transfer Award, focused on evaluating the effectiveness of a virtual reality-based intervention to improve the ability of adolescents and adults with ASD to interact effectively with police officers.

Having served in a variety of positions in both academic and medical settings in the U.S. and the UK, including director of clinical research and development for Pyramid Educational Consultants, Inc., McCleery most recently served as a scientist at the Center for Autism Research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He received his bachelor’s in psychology from Rutgers University, doctorate in experimental psychology, and a postdoctoral fellowship from the University of California San Diego. He completed an additional postdoctoral fellowship in developmental cognitive neuroscience of autism at Harvard Medical School.  

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Founded in 1851 in the Jesuit tradition of academic excellence, Saint Joseph’s University is a top-ranked Catholic University that provides a rigorous, student-centered education. With a total enrollment of 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students, SJU offers a wide array of academic programs designed so that each graduate enters the world with a competitive resume and global perspective. This is achieved through intense academic study led by thought-leading faculty scholars, a comprehensive campus experience and robust study abroad, service-learning, internship and co-op programs. Upon graduation, nearly 100 percent of students are employed, pursuing advanced degrees or volunteering in prestigious service programs. A member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, SJU offers 20 Division I intercollegiate men’s and women’s sports. SJU alumni — over 68,000 strong — provide a powerful network that spans the globe.

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