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Pictured in the front row, from left, are Lorette Oden; chair of the Health Sciences and Social Work program, Janet Wigglesworth, chair of the Kinesiology program and Tammie Walker, chair of the School of Music. Pictured in the back row, from left, are Gretchen Steil Weiss, DRC learning specialist and coordinator of the event; Tara Buchannan, DRC director; Mindy Pfeiffer, Horn Field Campus program coordinator; Alex Olson, RPTA student; Jason Woods, associate vice president for Student Services; Cindy Piletic, professor of Kinesiology and Danielle Thompson, Kinesiology graduate student and DRC Exam Services coordinator.
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Kinesiology Professor Cindy Piletic addressed the luncheon crowd.
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WIU Disability Resource Center Honors Faculty for Welcoming Diversity

April 21, 2017

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MACOMB, IL - The Disability Resource Center (DRC) at Western Illinois University celebrated WIU faculty members' contributions to disability access in the classroom at the annual Faculty Appreciation Luncheon and Awards Ceremony Wednesday, April 19.

According to Gretchen Steil Weiss, DRC learning specialist and coordinator of the event, the luncheon is a way to honor professors who welcome diversity in the classroom.

Awards were given to faculty who were nominated by a student with a disability and met the following criteria:

• Set a welcoming tone in the classroom
• Display a willingness to discuss and arrange accommodations or work with the DRC to arrange accommodations

• Make the accommodation process simple

• Communicate openly and honestly with students

• Maintain the confidentiality of students

• Demonstrate flexibility

• Make themselves readily available to give guidance and answer questions

This year's award winners were (with a quote by their nominator):

Kinesiology Professor Cindy Piletic – "What she won't tell you is that, not only is she an amazing professor, but an amazing person. She goes above and beyond for her students. She works with her students by meeting them where they are and guides them in fulfilling their own unique potential. She facilitates a passion for learning the way every great teacher does. She is not the type that is set in her ways, and she doesn't resist change, which isn't surprising given her area of expertise. She takes the time to listen to her students and adapts to give each one their own unique education. She's a huge advocate for her students and individuals with disabilities, which has pretty much been her life's work. This advocacy and passion to change the way the world sees disability is something she has instilled in her students and colleagues."

Horn Field Campus Program Coordinator Mindy Pheiffer – "Mindy is willing to do whatever it takes for her students. She checks to make sure we understand the material and is a great listener. She helped me get involved as a facilitator at Horn Field Campus. She makes me feel comfortable and included."

Health Science and Social Work Professor Jamie Johnson – "He understands what I've been through, works with me to arrange accommodations, and communicates openly and honestly with me."

Music Professor James Caldwell – "I most appreciate Dr. Caldwell's empathy, commitment and awareness of my skill level and my eventual progress. Dr. Caldwell has been there to celebrate my achievements, and not let me throw in the towel. I want to recognize him for his great teaching as a reflection through my advancement, and thank him for what we accomplished together. I feel that for him taking the time for me, this is only a small token for my gratitude."

The Disability Resource Center is the campus department that consults with faculty on disability access and approves modifications and auxiliary aids that make sure students with disabilities get an equal opportunity to education.

Faculty who would like consultation on accessibility in the classroom or students who experience barriers in the classroom due to disability may contact the DRC at (309) 298-2512 or email

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