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Dr. Michelle Rigler earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Special Education-Severe Affective Needs in 1998 from Western Michigan University. This degree focused heavily on educating students with autism. While working full time as a special education teacher, she earned her Master of Arts degree from Prescott College in Special Education-Severe Affective Needs. In Chattanooga, Tennessee, she began her career in higher education in 2004. Following the defense of her dissertation which focused on improving the retention of college students with disabilities, she received a Doctorate in Education from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) in Learning and Leadership with a focus on Higher Education Administration.

Her career in higher education has focused on creating equal access for students, faculty, staff, and visitors with disabilities. By remaining fluent in the language of the Americans with Disabilities Act-Amendments Act through all of its changes, she has been able to create and manage an effective Disability Resource Center at UTC. In this role, Dr. Rigler has been able to rejuvenate her passion for studying and working with students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). In partnership with colleagues, she developed a successful comprehensive and holistic program to support students with ASD as they transition to and move through their college careers.

Dr. Rigler is a professional member of several organizations, and served in many leadership roles within these organizations. In addition, she has presented at several local, regional, national and international conferences regarding the varying aspects of accommodations and programming for people with ASD.