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College President makes personal effort to understand perspective of students with disabilities

Posted Aug 24 2008 7:07pm
If his recent perspective-taking outing is fully appreciated, then William F. Messner, the President of Massachusetts’ Holyoke Community College, gives a new meaning to the term “top-down management.” His effort resulted in the top man sitting down for a spell.

What Messner did was to

put himself in the role of one of his students with a disability.

He spent two hours in a wheelchair and attempted to navigate his way to different areas of campus. He quickly came to understand the challenges his campus offered and the inaccessibility of one particularly concerning area, all the while gaining the valuable insight of what students in this situation face daily. On another day, Messner also spent another two hours wearing glasses that limit and restrict his vision.

While many college and university presidents honestly claim to appreciate the effort their students put into pursuing their education, few, if any, others have made this specific effort to gain the particular insight that students with disabilities face on their campus. So, “Bravo” to President Messner for leading by example. It is definitely one worth repeating.
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