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Fall 2019 event recognizes faculty, staff for service to students with disabilities

| Vicky Thomas

The Services for Students with Disabilities office at UW-Eau Claire celebrated Disability Awareness Month on Oct. 29 and honored faculty and staff for their service to students with disabilities.

Dr. Bob Nowlan, professor of English; and Dr. Paul Kaldjian, professor and chair of the geography and anthropology department — along with his departmental colleagues, were recognized as university faculty who demonstrate outstanding commitment to meeting students' disability-related needs. Quincy Chapman, Deb Newman and Vicki Wenger of Housing and Residence Life; and Allyson Wisniewski and Brett Schroedel of Blugold Central, were thanked for their collaboration. Senior journalism major Shannon Gunderson delivered the state of Wisconsin Proclamation of Disability Awareness Month, and LaRue Pierce, dean of students, presented opening remarks. 

Dr. Bob Nowlan, professor of English, was nominated by a student who shared, “Dr. Nowlan was extremely accommodating when I was struggling to stay focused during one of my semesters. Not only this, but he has started a student organization backed by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). At the first meeting I had never felt so welcome in a group of people and am truly excited to see the good the group may do for ourselves and others. He unknowingly keeps me motivated and I’m sure of this for many others. He’s a great professor.” Upon hearing of his award, Nowlan expressed, “I keep learning with and from students about how to be all the more sensitively responsive, supportive and inclusive.” 

Dr. Paul Kaldjian, professor and chair of the geography and anthropology department, along with his departmental colleagues, were recognized for their support of many students who require accommodations for their disabilities in the classroom and lab. A student shared, “All of the faculty in that department support me. I can’t single out one. They all work together and collaborate. They look out for my needs, are never judgmental of me, and help me succeed when I have difficulties.” Representing the faculty in his department, Kaldjian shared, “We are pleased when students find us helpful and supportive, and if we have helped reduce obstacles and been able to demonstrate awareness and understanding.”

Quincy Chapman, Deb Newman and Vicki Wenger of Housing and Residence Life were thanked for their concern and support for students needing housing-related accommodations, many of which focus on health conditions. Their office meets regularly with the Disability Services staff to address solutions that ensure equal access for students’ residential experience. Their commitment goes beyond the expectations of their office, and they always have the students’ best interest in mind.

Allyson Wisniewski and Brett Schroedel of Blugold Central have contributed time and effort toward addressing issues common for most students, but especially for students with disabilities. Parking nearby is important when students have mobility concerns or routine medical appointments for various health conditions. Wisniewski and Schroedel have streamlined several processes with the Disability Services office to reduce barriers for students and focus on accessibility around campus.

The program concluded with presentations made by senior psychology major Melissa Maxwell, who spoke about her leadership in the Eye to Eye national organization; junior psychology major Emily Newell, who advocated for her disability in January in Washington, D.C.; and senior political science major Liam Barnes, who studied in London this summer at the London School of Economics and Political Science. We extend congratulations to all of them for their inspirational stories and accomplishments as UW-Eau Claire Blugolds.

Vicky Thomas, director of Services for Students with Disabilities; staff members Katie Bublitz, Patti Colom, Katie Strope, and Tyra Wendt; graduate assistants Matt Noehring and Katherine Michaels; and student staff members expressed their gratitude to the many faculty and staff who make it possible for students with disabilities to successfully pursue a major and graduate from UW-Eau Claire.

Photo caption: Faculty and staff members were honored Oct. 29 for their outstanding commitment to students with disabilities during UW-Eau Claire's Disability Awareness Month celebration. Pictured (from left) are Ezra Zeitler, Doug Faulkner, Munshi Rahman, Paul Kaldjian, Allyson Wisniewski, Brett Schroedel, Vicki Wenger, Bob Nowlan, Quincy Chapman and Vicky Thomas.