USM honors advocate for students with disabilities

Disability Support Services Director Susan Willemin honored with University System
of Maryland’s Board of Regents Staff Award on Friday

Towson University’s Director of Disability Support Services, Susan Willemin was honored
with the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents Staff Award.

Susan Willemin, Towson University’s Director of Disability Support Services, received the University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents Staff Award in a special breakfast honoring this year’s award
winners. 

The Board of Regents Staff Award is the highest honor bestowed upon exempt and nonexempt
staff at USM institutions. The awards are based on the recipients’ work within their
institutions, communities and the surrounding environment.

Willemin, who was recognized for her efforts on behalf of students with disabilities, was the first USM staff member to be honored in the Inclusion, Multiculturalism
and Social Justice category. She was one of eight USM staff members to be honored this year.

“The award is an affirmation that our work—both my work and the work of the entire
DSS staff—is highly worthwhile and appreciated,” Willemin said. 

“Creating a more diverse and inclusive campus is one of President Kim Schatzel’s priorities,”
she added. “It has been very gratifying to work at TU during a time of such positive
growth and change.

 “To me, an award in the category of Inclusion, Multiculturalism and Social Justice
is a recognition that students with disabilities are an integral part of the campus
community.”

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Willemin. who celebrated her 20th year at Towson University this past July, as spent
her entire time at TU career with DSS — initially as a learning disabilities specialist
and later as director, a post she has held for 12 years.

During her tenure the number of students with disabilities at TU has grown from approximately
200 to 1,800, while the number of DSS staff has grown from three to 10.

Willemin said the educational environment has become more welcoming and inclusive
to students with disabilities, particularly in best practices such as universal design
for learning (UDL), which DSS, faculty and the Office for Academic Innovation[BROKEN LINK] are promoting. 

She describes UDL as “a framework for designing learning environments that provides
all individuals an equal opportunity to learn, which fosters diversity.”   

Another key to the growth of DSS has been the remodeling of the Testing Services Center,
which offers state-of-the-art equipment to help support students during exams and
finals. 

“Our Testing Services Center is considered a model.” Willemin said, noting that DSS
office staff from throughout the state have visited it.

DSS partnerships include working with TU’s Office of Technology Services, as well as with other USM institutions, to facilitate electronic accessibility for
individuals with disabilities.

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“Whereas physical accessibility was a major challenge in the past, electronic accessibility
is the major challenge today,” she said.

Willemin is most impressed with the willingness of TU faculty and staff to work collaboratively
with DSS on behalf of students with disabilities. “It’s the best support my staff
and I have received,” she said.

This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson
University:
Diverse and Inclusive Campus. 

View more information: https://www.towson.edu/news/2018/dss.html

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