New resources for disabled students

Jessica Stallings

Students with disabilities have a new ally at the university, as a disability resources coordinator position has been created and filled.

Thomas Longwell, Counseling Center Director, said most universities have this position.

“We’ve been thinking about having this position for a while,” Longwell said. “It will give a lot more resources for our students.”

Longwell said the term disability is very broad and doesn’t include just physical disabilities.

“It includes physical limitations, blindness, brain injuries, learning disabilities, ADHD, ADD, depression, anxiety, all the way up to students with severe allergies,” Longwell said.

Longwell said the assistant director of the counseling center had been in charge of monitoring students with disabilities but she left the university.

“We looked at the needs of the university, and when we decided to hire someone new, we made sure we started on the right foot,” Longwell said.

Longwell said students with disabilities may not be able to show their true colors because people look only at their disabilities. He said this position helps students by giving them the resources they need to show what they know.

With a new position the university decided on a new space. Ronda Stone, who will be the director, has a desk currently located within the Counseling Center, but in fall she will move to the Education Center and her position will be under University Division.

“(Stone) is passionate about what she does and her love for it is contagious to other faculty members,” Longwell said.

Longwell said within the past year the Counseling Center has monitored over 15,000 exams for students who need a distraction-reduced environment to test.

“The move to the Education Center will give great space for lots of room for testing,” Longwell said.

Longwell said he feels that making the switch over to the University Division is important for the university.

“Making the move to the Education Center will make the awareness of disabilities more visible,” Longwell said. “A lot of people don’t think to look for a Disability Center within a Counseling Center.”

Michael Broshears, University Division director, said the university is currently working with an architect for the remodel of the space. He said he hopes it will be ready by the fall.

“Connecting with students with disabilities to the University Division by giving them their own unified space is great addition to the university,” Broshears said.

Broshears said since the new space will be built to meet the needs of students with disabilities, the university will have a better chance for outreach and more education to all students.

“The move will allow us to centralize and modernize the process of what we are doing in the University Division,” Broshears said.

Broshears said Stone has a real passion for what she does and for this population of students.

“Having her own space and position is an exciting opportunity for her,” Broshears said.

Stone previously worked at the University of Evansville for five years before making the switch to USI. She had a similar position at UE but decided to transfer when the new title became available.

“I like USI because it feels like coming home because this is where I gained my degree,” Stone said. “The campus and the people are great.”

Stone said she chose the field because it has always been an interest to her, having a disability herself. She said it’s her passion, and she could talk about it forever.

“I love working with the students and seeing them succeed,” Stone said. “Their accomplishment makes me feel proud about what I do.”