The following are winning nominations for the RDS Outstanding Effort Award for the category of staff.
Dawn is the office "point-person" in accomplishing our Alternative Testing services. As the receptionist at the Counseling Center Testing Center, she is directly involved with the handling and monitoring of at least half the exams the office administers. This is not an easy task. Not only does she have to deal with (at times) irrate students, but she also has had to work closely with an office that is far removed from her location. She does this quite well. As proof of her support, the office was able to administer successfully over 1100 exams during Fall semester, 1994. We couldn't have done it without her cooperation and extreme efforts.
As the designated liaison to the office, Christie has often gone beyond her liaison duties. She is always willing to meet with students (often unexpectedly) and address their unique needs, always looking for the best resolution to their financial situation. She has often gone out of her way to help particular students that have perhaps fallen between the cracks of the system. She has proven to be extremely resourceful and has instilled confidence in students that the reality of finances can be worked out to help them continue their academic goals. Christie is felt by many in the office to be the person responsible for the many positive attitudes and happiness our students have concerning Financial Aid which in itself is a major accomplishment!
With space such a premium on campus, finding extra space to provide accommodations (often for urgent needs) for students with disabilities for test-taking or related out-of-classroom learning activities requires the cooperation and special attention of dedicated staff. Nancy Hurt demonstrates both the cooperation and special attention when it has come to the needs of RDS. She has always listens attentively to the situations we are presented with and has responded to each request with extreme care and consideration. Because of her efforts, students with disabilities who have special requests can take tests or otherwise accomplish learning tasks in an appropriate place on campus. For example, her knowledge of available space and her permission to use it, has resulted in our ability to accommodate more students in the General Services Building during finals weeks which has helped to limit our need for outside locations for Alternative Testing. As she has become more familiar with the unique needs of RDS, Nancy has also provided support and advocacy within the university system with the process of acquiring additional permanent space for RDS. Without such support and understanding, not only would our present location not be a reality, but plans for expansion would not be so quickly discussed. While she may feel she is simply doing her job, her efforts on behalf of RDS and students with disabilities have been critical in order to ensure students are, and will continue to be, accommodated in the best method possible.
As constant advocates, both Marla and Erin present a united front to the university on behalf of access to computer technology. Not only do they assess individual students for their needs, Marla and Erin also advocate for systems change throughout the university. They constantly strive to keep up-to-date in the field of adaptive equipment which is no easy task. The world of technology is constantly changing and how to determine how use the variety of options out there is a monumental task. Because they have worked so hard so consistently these past few years, it is now much easier for students to access classes that use computer technology as part of course requirements. In addition, Marla and Erin also advocate on behalf of ergonomics for employees and future employee in an effort to promote a safer work environment for everyone to prevent further injury or disability. They both deserve to be recognized for their unending effort and support to making this a more accessible and safe environment for both students and staff.
Sue has a long history of working with students with disabilities. She has provided endless hours of counseling and support throughout many student careers as a counselor in the Academic Advancement Center and now in the HELP Success Center. She has been a constant source of encouragement and support for individuals with disabilities, enabling them to suceed as students as well as human beings. As one student says, "I can't begin to put into words how much it has meant to have such an incredible individual take an active interest in my challenges and goals." In addition, she has had a special interest in working with students with disabilities and has made an extra effort to be more knowledgeable about the issues that affect them. Her understanding of their difficulties as well as their strengths has provided the right support at the right time to more students than she will ever realize. Her dedication has often led her to go out of her way to work with individual students and many students attribute their retention at CSU to her capable support.
Mike McCormick is currently Director of Operations Management for the Housing and Food Services Department. During his 30 year tenure with the Department, Mike McCormick, as Operations Director, has provided the lead for the Department in dealing with 504 and ADA issues. He has been an advocate for modifying facilities so that they are accessible and in making sure any new construction not only meets the 'letter of the law', but also meets the 'spirit of the law'. An example of going the extra mile is when our Pingree Park Campus experienced a severe forest fire, during the reconstruction, the architect wanted to only make one cabin accessible, citing code requirements. Mike argued and won, that all cabins needed to be accessible. It is this kind of leadership and advocacy that is beyond the call of duty on behalf of students with disabilities. Mike has taken the lead for the Department in advocating accessibility issues on behalf of students in numerous projects such as: Braiden Hall accessible rooms; Ramp for Durrell Center; Elevator of Braiden Hall; various parking lot reconfiguration to address accessibility concerns; New Construction of International House - all rooms accessible; New Construction at Pingree and leadership for 'curb cuts' for all Housing and Food Services facilities. Besides these major projects, Mike assists both the Residence Life and Apartment Life staff to make modifications on a case by case basis depending on need throughout the halls and apartments. He consults regularly with the Director of the RDS Office about plans prior to construction about how best to meet the needs of students with disabilities. Mike has been a model to all of us with his leadership in dealing with accessibility issues and being an advocate on the behalf of students with disabilities. We truly feel he deserves recognition for his efforts.
John is a supervisor in Edwards Hall kitchen and has a woman who is deaf in his employ. John has taken the time to learn sign language in order to facilitiate communication as well as increase the awareness of co-workers and fellow staff. He goes extra lengths to participate in educational opportunities to further his understanding and enhance everyone's cohesion. Communication within a team is a hard enough task. It is usually up to the leader of the team to make sure everyone is on the same page at the same time. Individual communication styles often complicate the process and it takes strong commitment on behalf of the leader, as well as the rest of the team, to ensure everyone knows as much as possible about the most important issues. As a supervisor with an employee who is deaf, John Beckett has demonstrated commitment to making the working environment as welcoming and accessible as possible. He has independently taken the time to learn sign language to facilitate communication and has encouraged an increase in the level of awareness among co-workers and fellow staff of the unique communication methods associated with deafness. In addition, he has sought out, under his own self-initiative, additional educational opportunities to further his understanding of deafness and communication to enhance team cohesion. These efforts are truly "outstanding" and deserve recognition as well as appreciation.
There are many reasons Cath is deserving of this award. I will only highlight three of them. Working in the Assistive Technology Resource Center, Cath makes getting accommodations in place for students a priority. Even when she has a list of things a mile long, she will reprioritize things so that she can get the necessary AT installed in a very timely manner. Her job is to do the installations but what sets her apart is that she will, and has, even come in on her day off to get something installed for a student so that they don't have to wait. Students using AT at CSU greatly benefit from her being in that position. Part of her job, too, is to work with Resources for Disabled Students. She has worked with our Alternative Text Coordinator to improve and troubleshoot the performance of the techology that is necessary to music Braille translation and also to improve the process for scanning and reading of books. Because she was in that position in the past, she has a clear understanding of demands of the job and has great ideas for ways to use technology to enhance those services. Last but not least, Cath has worked tirelessly at improving her own expertise in terms of web access consultation. She has shown great acquisition of knowledge to assist with her consulting and has a great rapport with her clients in terms of catering the level of information to their level of understanding. Her efforts in this capacity have been to present workshops for web designers on campus and in helping to develop access guidelines for the entire campus community.
Kevin has worked diligently and tirelessly as the chair of the Web Access Committee at CSU for the past 3 years. Through his leadership and great organization skills, the committee was able to produce some quality guidelines for creating accessible web content at CSU. Kevin has been a great facilitator - receptive and objective in regard to all committee member's ideas and contributions. He seems to view the university's responsibility to ensure that technology is accessible to all students and staff as a given - advocating for people with disabilities in a positive, pro-active manner. Kevin also served a key role in meeting with many different campus entities to educate them regarding the need for accessible web design. He did a fantastic job of representing the committee in a positive, articulate manner. In summary, under his guidance, the committee was able to accomplish great things that will directly benefit people with disabilities on our campus. In addition, Kevin provides support for RDS in helping us keep our office technology running smoothly. His behind the scenes support is essential for us in maintaining operations as efficiently as possible, and in the long run that allows us to respond to student more effectively. Without his advocacy for accessibility and support of our operations, this campus would certainly be a very different place than what it is today.
Throughout the school year, Linda has been working with a student and, according to the student, has made the adjustment as a new student a breeze. As an incoming freshman, the student was unfamiliar with the campus and town as well as worried about the accessibility. She has taken the student on several tours of town making her more familiar with it. She even showed the student how to use the bus system with her scooter, something the student had been afraid to do, giving the student more options. In preparation for next year, Linda has also been working with the student to locate accessible houses and apartments. Linda has been this student's campus connection because of all the resources and people she knows. According to the student, she now knows all the shortcuts and ways around this place because Linda took the time to make accessibility a priority and is always willing to lend a hand or call someone who could help. She feels she wold be lost without her help! For that level of individual support, Linda deserves to be recognized for her outstanding effort.
Anne has been a wonderful ally for Resources for Disabled Students and for the students who work with that office. Under her leadership, the services and support provided by the Academic Advancement Center have proven time and time again to be invaluable to students with disabilities. As one student stated, "had it not been for the Academic Advancement Center, I would not have found Resources for Disabled Students." That strong referral process is what helps students benefit from support comprehensively and not in isolation. Anne has also been instrumental in ensuring a smooth referral process, both to RDS and from RDS, by helping to streamline the process to improve its user-friendliness. In addition to her leadership, Anne takes diversity to heart as well as inclusively. Not only does she recognize the differences between people, she also fully celebrates them. While others on campus may focus on the limitations a student may have due to a disability, Anne seems to see the disability as just another characteristic in the mosaic of the whole student. She sees this in her staff as well. Anne was instrumental in having her staff learn sign language in support of not only another staff member but for student users. Recently when a deaf student came in and was greeted by a counselor who signed "good morning," the student was not only surprised but truly touched that someone could speak her language. Anne is a great problem solver as well as administrator. She has been the person to call when unexpected and unusual problems arise as she has demonstrated the ability to think things through with a very student-oriented perspective. In working through the unique problems encountered by students with disabilities, she has also strived to make the system work for them rather than having a student adapt to it. If there is a way to make it work, she will help find it. Given the restraints of a federally funded program, the ease at which students with disabilities interact with the program are due to Anne's foresight during the grant writing process as those mechanisms become part of the grant objectives. Anne's ability to forge cooperative relationships with all aspects of the campus contribute to making the Academic Advancement Center a place to be for students with disabilities. For example, by working with the Assistive Technology Resource Center, Anne has ensured that students with disabilities have the same opportunities that other students do to technology. In addition, Anne has participated on the Disability Interest Group, contributing insightful, supportive, and collaborative efforts to all the units working with disabled students. They say that it takes a whole village to raise a child. Anne is a true believer that it takes a whole campus to graduate one disabled student. She is a truly a person whose efforts are outstanding on behalf of students with disabilities.
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