Faculty recognized for aid to students with disabilities

Deborah Pritchard

Some professors try to help students with sight disabilities by enlarging words on a giant piece of paper that needs to be unfolded like a map. Others go the extra mile and actually enlarge the words on a normal size piece of paper.

Ability Unlimited, with help from Student Accessibility Services, hosted its fifth annual Ability Unlimited Outstanding Faculty Recognition and Awards Reception last night in the Student Center.

The highest honor is an award named after Chris Goddard, a student with a disability who died five years ago and was a founder of Ability Unlimited, said Danielle Flickinger, senior justice studies and psychology major and president of Ability Unlimited. The award goes to the faculty member who has done the most to help students with disabilities succeed. This year’s award was presented to English professor Lawrence Starzyk.

“The name of our organization is Ability Unlimited, and thanks to Dr. Starzyk, I truly feel my ability is unlimited,” said senior English and education major Lindsay Gritzan, who nominated Starzyk.

She said Starzyk has done nice things for her such as pumping her wheelchair tire when it was flat, helping her find wheelchair-accessible tables and allowing her to use his teaching table as a desk.

“He had faith in me even when I didn’t have faith in myself,” Gritzan said. “(He) made me see that there are good people in this world who are willing to give a helping hand to those in need,”

Starzyk said he didn’t do anything special to deserve recognition.

“I feel I didn’t do anything,” Starzyk said with a laugh. “You do what other people would do for you and you do nothing other.”

Eighteen awards were presented to faculty. The five highest awards were presented to Paul Broderick, Walter Davis, Harold Fry, Rebecca Stevens and Starzyk.

“The doors have been open and the knowledge we have obtained has allowed us to step through,” Flickinger said. “I feel the event made a powerful impact on the message we are trying to send: Disabled doesn’t mean unable, and with the right support and help their abilities could be unlimited.”

This year’s faculty recognition dinner was the largest ever and featured a social hour, President Lester Lefton as a keynote speaker, a silent auction, dinner and the award ceremony. Every attendee received a keychain with a “Key to Success” engraving.

Contact student life reporter Deborah Pritchard at [email protected].