Audrey Sorrells

Audrey Sorrells

Associate Dean of Students for Research, Associate Professor, Ph.D.

Learning Disabilities/Behavior Disorders, Multicultural Special Education, Undergraduate Program


Office & Hours

Office: SSB G.104B

512 471-5017

512 471-7833


Mailing Address
The University of Texas at Austin
Office of the Dean of Students
1 University Station A5800
Austin, TX 78712
UT Mail Code: A5800

Full Vita
download vita (pdf)


Audrey M. Sorrells, Ph.D. is associate dean of students for research in the Office of the Dean of Students, Division of Student Affairs. She is also associate professor of special education in the College of Education, Senior Ford Fellow, National Research Council and past Fellow in the Lee Hage Jamail Regents Chair in Education at The University of Texas at Austin. Prior to her appointment in the Office of the Dean of Students, Dr. Sorrells served as undergraduate advisor and minority liaison officer in the Department of Special Education, as well as chair of several department, college and university committees. She has 27 years of higher education teaching and research experience, from 1987 to 1997 at Southeastern Louisiana University, and since 1997 at UT Austin. Prior to her university appointments, Dr. Sorrells taught in K-12 settings, teaching at risk students and in high poverty rural and urban schools, including students with learning and behavioral disabilities.

Dr. Sorrells' research in higher education has focused on the first-year experience, first-generation students, Veteran students with posttraumatic stress, mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), and substance use disorders, students with disabilities, professional development, and interdisciplinary partnerships in higher education. Other areas on which she has focused her research include minority and disproportionate representation in K-12 schools for students with disabilities, reading instruction in middle and secondary schools, and college readiness. In addition to having authored and coauthored many refereed publications, Dr. Sorrells is a consultant and presenter at local, statewide and national levels, and currently serves as a principal investigator or co-investigator of several state and federally funded grants. She served as co-editor of Journal of Multiple Voices for Ethnically Diverse Exceptional Learners and is co-author of the book, Critical Issues in Special Education: Access, Diversity and Accountability.

The recipient of many honors, including a Doctoral Leadership Award from the University of Florida, Dr. Sorrells has also been a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, a Dean's Fellow at The University of Texas at Austin and is listed in Who's Who Among Educators in America. Dr. Sorrells earned a Bachelor of Arts in business administration and education and Master of Education degree in special education from Southeastern Louisiana University. She holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree in education from the University of Florida.

Current Research Interests and Expertise

  • Disproportionality in special education
  • Students with autism spectrum disorders
  • Student Veterans in higher education, with PTSD, TBI and substance use problems 
  • Postsecondary students with disabilities
  • College student development and engagement, transfer and first generation students
  • Assessment in higher education


  • UT Faculty Expert, Education Panel, LBJ 2014, 50th Year Civil Rights Summit
  • Diversity Mentoring Fellowship. UT Austin Graduate School, 2014-15
  • Appointed, Institute of Medicine’s (IOM’s) Committee on the Evaluation of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Disability Program for Children with Speech Disorders and Language Disorders, 11/2014 – 04/16

Program Development

Dean of Students Research Institute is a dynamic, student-led, interdisciplinary collaboration of UT Austin Office of the Dean of Students and university academic and co-curriculum departments aimed at building capacity of the student affairs staff to develop, implement, and improve programs and services for all students at UT, creating opportunities for improved student learning and engagement in higher education, and providing a mechanism that facilitates and encourages higher education inquiry and problem solving, student development and leadership.

OUR UT first year experience, housed in the Office of the Dean of Students, Division of Student Affairs, grew out of the course transformation initiative which seeks to find ways to address undergraduate retention and graduation rates; student success through involvement and engagement; learning through experience, and integrating the University’s core mission—teaching, research, and educational excellence—with co-curricular student development and leadership. OUR UT community of first year and second year students are offered unique opportunities to interact with staff and administrators to promote inquiry and learning and leadership outcomes.

Current Grant Awards

Sorrells, A. & Reagins-Lilly, S., College/University Outreach to Veterans. Department of Veteran Affairs, The Office of Mental Health, Veterans Health Administration  Funded:2011- 2016

Sorrells, A. M. (PI)). Adaption of a Substance Use Prevention Program for Student Veterans. National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Drug Abuse. Submitted: May 2013. Reviewed and Scored.

Baker, S. K., Linan-Thompson, S., Edwards-Santoro, L., & Sorrells, A. (Co-PI). Reading Intervention with Spanish-Speaking Students: Maximizing Instructional Effectiveness in English and Spanish. US Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs. Goal 3 (CFDA: 84.305) Efficacy. Funded 2007-2011

Boards, Committees and Associations

Minority Liaison Coordinator, Department of Special Education, UT

Student Affairs Leadership Team (SALT)

Member, NASPA, Student Affairs Professionals in Higher Education

Lead Team Member, Campus Climate Response Team (CCRT)             

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Editorial Boards

Edited, Journal of College and Character

Co-Editor, Multiple Voices for Ethnically Diverse Exceptional Learners (2008 – 2013)

Editorial Board, Multiple Voices for Ethnically Diverse Exceptional Learners


1997   Ph.D.   University of Florida

Representative Publications

Sorrells, A. M., Rieth, H., & Sindelar, P. T. (Eds.). (2004). Critical issues in special education: Access, diversity, and accountability. Boston: Allyn and Bacon/Pearson.

Current Scholarly Activity

Sorrells, A. M., Rieth, H., & Sindelar, P.T. (Eds.) (Under Revision). Critical issues in special education for 21st Century Educators: Disability, Diversity, and Disproportionality.

Sorrells, A. M., Carter, J. F., & McCray, W. A. (In Review) Exceptional Learners in Diverse Society: An Introduction to Special Education. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, Anticipated Release:  Fall 2016.

Selected Book Chapters & Journal Articles

Morissette, S. B., Patel, A., Holleran, L. & Sorrells, A. M. (in press). Substance use disorders. In N. D. Ainspan (Eds.), Handbook of Psychosocial Interventions for Veterans: A Guide for the Non-Military Mental Health Clinician. Oxford University Press.

Sorrells, A. M., Wills, S., Reagins-Lilly, S., Cate, C., Moe, J. (2015). Veterans integration to academic leadership (VITAL): A collaborative University-Veterans Administration outreach program to empower students veterans to succeed and lead. In J. E. Coll & E. Weiss (Eds.), Supporting Veterans In Higher Education: A Primer for Administrators, Faculty and Academic Advisors. Chicago: Lyceum Books. 

Sorrells, A. M., *Cole, H. A., & Pazey, B., & *Carter, J. F. (2014). Working with learners with learning disabilities in STEM. In S. Green (Ed), S.T.E.M. Education: Strategies for Teaching Learners with Special Needs. Nova Science Publishers.

O’Reilly, M., Sorrells, A., Gainey, M., Sigafoos, J., Lancioni, G., Lang, R., Risploi, M., & Davis, T., (2014). Naturalistic approaches to social skills training and development. In J. Luiselli (Ed.) Children and Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD): Recent Advances and Innovations in Assessment, Education, and Intervention. Oxford University Press.

O’Reilly, M., Lancioni, G., Sigafoos, J., Lang, R., Healy, O., Nirbhay, S., Sorrells, A., Kang, S., Koch, H., & Rojeski, L. (2014). Assistive technology for people with behavior problems. In G. E. Lancioni & N. N. Singh (Eds)). Assistive Technologies For Persons With Diverse Abilities. New York: Springer.

Sorrells, A. M., *Baker, S., *Cole, H., & ‘Raghallaigh, M. (2010). Persistent inequality in the wake of No Child Left Behind: Increasing the chances for African American students. In V. Green and S. Carrington (Eds.), Delving into diversity: An international exploration of issues in diversity in education. Hauppangeny, NY: Nova Science Publishers.

*Pierce, N. P., O’Reilly, M. F., Sorrells, A. M., *Fragale, C. L., White, P. J., Aguilar, J. M., & *Cole, H. (2014). Ethnicity reporting practices for empirical research in three Autism-related journals. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, DOI 10.1007/s10803-014-2041-x.

Reed, D., Sorrells, A., *Cole, H., & *Takawawa, N. (2013). The ecological and population validity of reading interventions for adolescents: Can effectiveness be generalized? Learning Disabilities Quarterly, 36(3), 131-144.

*Shin, M., & Sorrells, A. M. (2012). How first grade Korean English Learners respond to scientifically validated instruction in reading comprehension. Journal of Bilingual Education and Research Journal, 14(1). 1-36.

Sorrells, A. M., Garcia, S. B., & Ortiz, A. A. (2009). From the Editors – Persistent disproportionality. Multiple Voices for Ethnically Diverse Exceptional Learners 12(1), 1-3.

*Machalicek, W., O’Reilly, M., Chan, J. M., Rispoli, M., Lang, R., Davis, T., Shogren, K., Sorrells, A., Lancioni, G., Siagfoos, J., Green, V., & Langhthorne, P. (2009). Using videoconferencing to support teachers to conduct preference assessments with students with autism and developmental disabilities, Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 3, 32-41.

Trainor, A., Linstrom, L., Simon-Burroughs, M., Martin, J. E., & Sorrells, A. (2008). From marginalized to maximized opportunities for diverse youth with disabilities: A position paper of the Division on Career Development and Transition. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 31, 56-64.

Neal, L. I., McCray (Sorrells), A. D., Webb-Johnson, & Bridgest, S. (2003). The effects of African American movement styles on teachers’ perceptions and reactions. Journal of Special Education, 31, 49-57.

This study was featured in:

A. USA Today: Henry, T. (2001, April 23).A walk across cultural lines: “Study says “stroll” can steer teachers wrong.”

B. The Alanta Journal-Constitution: Emerson, B. (2001, May 14). Watch Your Step—or You Might Get Stereotyped. “ Walking style could nudge boys into special ed.”

C. Diversity INC.Com: Wallace, L. (2001, April 23). Waling the Walk Could Be Harmful to Black Youth Stuck in Special Ed.

D. Radio and TV stations in New York, Toronto, Dallas, St. Louis, San Antonio, and Austin


*Student lead and co-authors