The University of Connecticut’s Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) will complete its 50th consecutive year of service next month, according to the CSD official website.
The center was formed in 1967 as a program for the physically handicapped within public health services by registered nurse Barbara Shea. Over time it evolved, growing from under 100 students to the current number of over 4000, according to the CSD official website.
The center has been granted multiple awards since its conception, including when UConn was named as one of the top 10 disability friendly universities by New Mobility Magazine, according to its website.
Donna Korbel, current director of the CSD, said the commendations demonstrate initiative when caring for students with disabilities.
“When I came here, I was just overwhelmed at the amount of support,” Korbel said. “There’s always been a great commitment here for people asking ‘How can I go about doing this?’ and ‘How can we make our program more accessible?’”
Korbel said the university as a whole and not just the CSD is responsible for making the campus a more accessible place for students.
“We (CSD) do this work at the university for students, but it’s everybody in the university community who contributes to make it a really disability friendly place,” Korbel said.
The center wants to emphasize that students with disabilities take leadership roles in their own communities through programs like the Delta Alpha Pi honor society, Korbel said.
“It’s really important for us to encourage students to become leaders, to be mentors, to mentor other students and to really take on more responsibility for creating a more accessible environment here on campus,” Korbel said.
As part of the final month of the celebration, the center is inviting writer and learning activist Jonathan Mooney to speak, according to the CSD official site.
Looking toward the future, Korbel said she wants to do more to help students with disabilities transition and stay comfortably at UConn.
“The staff always jokes with me saying ‘No new initiatives!’ because it’s a lot. We’re doing a lot,” Korbel said. “But we’re always looking at what our students need and what we can do to help them.”
Collin Sitz is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.