Our Faculty

Rita Brusca-Vega

Rita Brusca-Vega, Ed.D.
Program Chair and Associate Professor, Special Education

Rita Brusca-Vega is a former classroom special education teacher of middle and high school students with mild disabilities. She received her bachelor’s degree with a double major in elementary and special education and her master’s degree in special education with a concentration in behavior disorders from Northeastern Illinois University. Her doctoral degree is in special education from Northern Illinois University with a concentration in severe disabilities. Rita has been the recipient of numerous federal grants for training special educators, including those who serve English language learners with disabilities and students with intense intervention needs. Her research and service interests include co-teaching and inclusion. She teaches courses on assessment, collaboration, and autism spectrum disorders at PUC, and is certified to teach online through the Quality Matters initiative at Purdue Calumet.

Suzanne Beike

Suzanne Beike, Ph.D.
Lecturer, Special Education


 Suzanne Beike holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Roanoke College, a master’s in special education from Valparaiso University, and a doctorate in special education from Purdue University. Before joining Purdue University Calumet in 2003, Suzanne was a service provider and program coordinator for a children’s psychiatric hospital for 11 years, a social worker for children’s protective services in Virginia for three years, and a preschool through middle school multicategorical special education teacher for 13 years. Her areas of research focus on how interest affects reading for students with reading and attention problems and motivational styles of these populations. She teaches courses in special education law and applied behavioral analysis, and is certified to teach online through the Quality Matters initiative at Purdue Calumet.  She is currently a reading and special education teacher in the School City of Hammond, IN.

Sharon Duncan

Sharon Duncan, Ed.D.
Lecturer, Special Education

Sharon Duncan completed her doctorate in the Disability and Equity in Education program at National-Louis University, master’s in school administration and special education at Lewis University, and bachelor’s in elementary education and learning disabilities at Saint Xavier University. She was a special education teacher for 16 years and an assistant principal of a school serving students with disabilities for six years. Sharon provides training in goal writing and curriculum implementation to Illinois schools and supports special educators and care givers in the Dominican Republic. She is the Director of Abide in Me, a charitable organization that assists individuals with disabilities in leading engaged lives. At Purdue Calumet, Sharon teaches the intense intervention licensure program courses. Her research interests include literacy for students with significant intellectual disabilities, models of disability, transition practices, and family stories.

Tom Mihail

Mihail, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Special Education

Associate Professor Tom Mihail’s 43-year career includes 10 years as a teacher, seven years as the Executive Director and Family Counselor of an early childhood special education program, and 26 years as a professor. He earned his Ph.D. in special education from Saint Louis University, M.S. in special education from Indiana University at South Bend, and B.S. in education from Indiana University. Tom received the 1999 Hammond, Indiana Mayor’s Commission on Disabilities Award, the 1997 Purdue University Calumet Outstanding Teacher Award, and the Illinois Department of Human Services 1993 Inservice Leadership Award for Team Development and Peer Training. He created websites devoted to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Nelson Mandela; The Holocaust; Myths and Facts About Supported Inclusive Education; and the School of Education Diversity Committee. He also maintains 10 human services resources websites, including Disabilities.