The Dr. L. Joy Gates Black era at Delaware County Community College began with her being recognized for the outstanding work she did at her previous employer, perhaps foreshadowing the great things that lie ahead for one of Pennsylvania’s premier community colleges.
Dr. Gates Black received the 2017 Maury Cotter Leader of Change Award from the Network for Change and Continuous Innovation (NCCI), an international professional association that promotes innovation and collaborative networking in higher education among its more than 1,000 members worldwide.
The award recognized her work at Tarrant County College District, a community college in Fort Worth, Texas, with more than 100,000 credit and non-credit students and multiple campuses.
Dr. Gates Black, though, is not the only agent of change at the school.
Meredith Much, an assistant professor of Allied Health, created an online educational training module that provides an overview of important topics in disability, as well as an overview of disabilities that may be encountered day-to-day in higher-education institutions and settings.
Sparked by her own disability and the subtle bias and hurtful ignorance that often is shown to people with disabilities, Much aimed to create a better way to help people see life through the eyes of someone who has a disability. The training is believed to be unique and may be the first of its kind in the nation.
Much said her hope is to “help remove some of the mystery and fear from disability, help people become more patient, comfortable, and informed in their daily interactions with people with a variety of disabilities, and hopefully help (people to) take a moment to reflect on the concept of being able bodied and better understand the lived experience of disability.”
Designed for a diverse audience, the training highlights different aspects of disability, and also includes an overview of different categories of disabilities.
The college’s Human Resources Department thought so highly of Much’s disability training module that it is considering using it to help train faculty, administrators, and staff.
“We are excited about the Disability and Society Tutorial that Assistant Professor Much created,” said Sara Evans, the college’s Director of Human Resources. “As a diverse community that values all people, Much’s tutorial will be instrumental in helping our faculty and staff better understand how it is to live with a disability.”