By John Schleicher
The year was 1967; Lyndon B. Johnson was the President of the United States. His Vice-President was Humbert H. Humphrey. The President’s Committee on Mental Retardation had recently been established.
Among the members of the committee were Muriel Humphrey, wife of the Vice-President, and Robert Kugel, M.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Pediatrics in the College of Medicine at UNMC. Dr. Kugel would become Dean of the College of Medicine in 1969, a position he would serve in until 1974.
A subcommittee chaired by Dr. Kugel met on the UNMC campus in February 1967. They heard testimony about the state of mental retardation programs throughout a five-state area. Nearly 150 people from around the five-state region attended the meeting.
The committee heard recommendations from members of the public one day, and then toured facilities in the region the following day. Mrs. Humphrey’s itinerary included the mental retardation research center at the former Nebraska Psychiatric Institute (NPI). The NPI was located in a building which is now the site of the Durham Research Centers.
The report issued by the President’s Committee on Mental Retardation in the summer of 1967 was titled “A first report to the President on the nation’s progress and remaining great needs in the campaign to combat mental retardation.”