Robbie Ludy: Professor of Special Education


photo courtesy of UMC

Autumn McClain, Opinion Editor

Every line on her face tells a story.  Energy fills the room as she tells stories of the adventurefilled life she has lived. Her buoyant personality has guided many through struggle and hardship. Her lifes work has been to impact the lives of special needs students, international students, and those who pursue a degree in the field of education. She is Dr. Robbie Ludy, professor of special education at Buena Vista University for over 20 years. Far from that of a prestigious corner office, Ludys quaint office is one you wouldnt unintentionally stumble upon.  


Ludy says that growing up in the small town of Jonesburg, Missouri, she knew as a child that she would find her place in the field of education. However, her original goal was to become a kindergarten teacher, not special education.  


My field is special education, but I got into it by accident. Im so old I predate most special education,” said Ludy.  


Ludy was actually involuntarily enrolled in the course of special education in college; however, she was so timid at the time that she passively followed her assigned coursework and graduated on the path to become a professor in special education.  


I was such a good little German girl. I never said anything,” said Ludy.  


It seems as though fate had taken the wheel and driven Ludy towards a career that she eventually developed a deep passion for; and somewhere along the lines between her undergrad and establishing her position here at BVU, that quiet little girl began to speak up.  


On the surface Ludy might seem like just another friendly face at BV, but conflict with administration lingers in Ludy’s past. Early on in her career, Ludy was involved in a lawsuit with five other women seeking justice for being paid less than their male counterparts. She expressed, in a voice shaking with passion and unresolved outrage, that she had risked her career with the lawsuit to prove that women did not have to settle for less.  


I worked hard for my degree. I worked hard to become a leader in my field. I involved myself in the lawsuit so that women who would come after me . . . wouldnt have to go through this,” explained Ludy. I wish it wouldnt have been attempted to be swept away. I wanted the administration to know they had not done well. 


Ludy further explained the injustices that sparked the case.  


A previous president said he liked to hire women because they worked harder and worked for less than a man,” Ludy said.  


A true inspiration. A spirit that constantly sought justice for the underdog. Although this lawsuit is well in the past, Ludy claims that, in her personal, prejudiced, biased opinion,” that the repercussions of this lawsuit have followed her long after the fact. In more detail, she explained that coworkers were cautious” about speaking with her and the other five women at the time of the lawsuit. Ludy said the judgement that lingered around the involved women affected their opportunities for advancement.  The lawsuit was dismissed after two years on a technicality, and although Ludy believes that progress has been made in regard to equal pay, she says there is still much work to be done.   


Erica Boettcher, assistant professor of education at BVU, was a student of Dr. Ludys in undergrad before becoming a colleague of hers.  


Dr. Ludy is kind-hearted, sympathetic, and is always willing to help, shared Boettcher.  She has guided me through my doctorate and has helped better me professionally. I still have a lot to learn from her.”  


Calle Friesen, department chair for literacy and early childhood education at BVU, added that Robbie is always the first one to open up her lunch kit and invite others to join her. We get so busy, we forget how important community is between colleagues. 


Calle Friesen has known Ludy for 16 years, and she has had the pleasure of being a student of Ludys both in her past as an undergrad and the present, as she will be taking American sign language with Ludy in 2019. A jack of all trades, Robbie Ludy teaches ASL at BVU, and is the only professor to do so. She signs nearly all campus events. With upcoming plans of retirement, it will be interesting to see if administration seek out a replacement to continue the teachings of ASL on campus.  


She is passionate about education, particularly for equal opportunity and appropriate support for students of different abilities,” says Friesen, offering further praise for Ludy. She has helped me to respect how important it is to teach every student, not just the ones that are easy to teach.”  


Dr. Robbie Ludy also has a deep appreciation of other cultures, as she works tirelessly with the international student program at BVU.  


She will be remembered for the amount of time that she has spent in preparing for them and introducing them to American culture,” says Friesen. All of the field trips that she has done and all the meals she has prepared to sort of be a teacher, but also a host. Im your American friend, is something indelible. And I know for the rest of her days she will receive cards and letters from all over the world because she is a beloved teacher who has touched so many lives. That is her legacy. 


From working with international students to special education, and ASL to fights for equal rights, Robbie Ludy has experienced a vigorous and fulfilling career. She is currently working on a project to remodel an old church that she looks forward to moving into in the near future. Robbie Ludy has had immense impact on the BVU community through-out her career and will continue to live out her legacy long after she retires.