Donald L. Cleland was Professor Emeritus of Education and Director of the Reading Laboratory in the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh. He earned his undergraduate degree at Westminster College. Cleland went on to graduate school at Pitt where he received his master's in education and Ph.D. degrees. He served as the principal at Etna High School. Following his retirement from Pitt in 1974 after 21 years, Cleland taught for six years at Ohio University.
Cleland was the first President of the Keystone State Reading Association (1967-68), and later President of the International Reading Association from 1970-1971. Cleland he was deeply involved in the growth of the Association from its modest beginning in 1956 with the merging of the International Council for the Improvement of Reading [IRICI] and the National Association of Remedial Teachers. He served as the Association's first executive secretary-treasurer, parliamentarian for the Board of Directors and at the annual meetings, and chairman of the Bylaws and Building Committees.