Disability Center Holds 1st Awards Ceremony

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To honor faculty and students who have helped accommodate disabled students on campus, the Center for Disability Services held its first annual awards luncheon Friday.

“We wanted to support faculty and students in what they do to accommodate disabled students’ needs,” said Olga Nadeau, director of the center.

At the ceremony, both faculty and students received awards for making disabled students feel comfortable on campus.

Tim Chambless, the only honored faculty member able to attend the event, said he feels honored and humbled to receive the award.

“I would just hope that every classroom and every professor would work with the Center for Disability Services and with students with special needs,” said Chambless, a political science adjunct associate professor. “We all share the common goal of education, and we want to be as sensitive and perceptive as possible in trying to help disabled students achieve that goal.”

According to Nadeau, Chambless received his award for “always making that extra effort for disabled students in his class.”

Nickieann Fleener, an associate communication professor, received an award for always helping students.

“She will have students with different disabilities, and she will make sure each student is accommodated,” Nadeau said.

Randall Stewart, an associate professor focusing on Greek and Latin, goes out of his way to make sure students are on equal ground with their classmates.

When Stewart has a blind student in his class, he has one of his teacher assistants tape record exam questions, and another assistant write the exam for the student, Nadeau said.

For the first time, 12 students who helped foster understanding about disabilities received certificates.

Colin Thomas, an undeclared freshman with cystic fibrosis, received an award for talking to the Utah State Legislature about funding for the center. He hopes students will be more sensitive to those with disabilities.

“Aside from the obvious acts like holding a door open for a student in a wheelchair or on crutches, people need to realize there are a lot of non visible disabilities,” he said. “Awareness is a big thing to help disabled students feel accommodated on campus.”

Previously, the center recognized students who received scholarships. That tradition continued this year.

Paul Brinkman, associate vice president for budget and planning, created the Keaton Walker Scholarship this year. Brinkman read for Walker, who became blind at age 2 because of disease, during the two-and a-half years he was a student at the U. In December, Walker died from cancer.

“He never let his impairment get in the way. He was a marvelous guy, and he had a lot of ability that didn’t have it’s way to play out because of disease,” Brinkman said. “This endowment is just a way of making sure that a little bit of him gets left behind at the U.”

The scholarship recipient, Ernie Soto, is a visually impaired student at the Graduate School of Social Work focusing on young, at risk populations.

Three students, a freshman, a continuing education student and a graduate student, received the Louise J. Snow Scholarship. The recipients did not want their names made public.

Each of the four recipients had to be a Utah resident, have at least a 2.5 GPA and have a disability. The Walker scholarship focuses on students with visual impairment.

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