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Disability advocacy award

Nominations sought for award honoring Mary Custis Straughn

The University of Delaware Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity is seeking nominations for the Mary Custis Straughn Excellence in Higher Education Disability Advocacy Award.

Straughn, who received her bachelor’s degree in 1955 and her master’s degree in 1961, both from the College of Arts and Sciences, developed multiple sclerosis at age 38. She advocated for the rights of people with disabilities and created educational opportunities for them. 

Her legacy has endured through the Mary Custis Straughn Endowment for Disabled Students at UD. For 25 years, the endowment has supported a variety of disability support services on campus. The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law on July 26, 1990. 

The award, established in 2016, will recognize a member of the University community whose advocacy, leadership, research, teaching or service promotes access and excellence for people with disabilities in higher education, and contributes to the creation of a University culture that engages and embraces disability within its vision for diversity.

Nominations may be submitted to vpd@udel.edu. The deadline for nominations is Nov. 20.

The University will honor the award recipient at a special event at 3:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 1, in the Gallery at the Perkins Student Center. Neil Simpkins will discuss "Arguing for Access: Rhetorics of Accommodation and Academic Writing," which will explore the rhetorical strategies students with disabilities use to access academic writing assignments. He will offer suggestions to writing instructors and disability services professionals for both increasing students' access to writing assignments and building accessible writing classrooms. Simpkins is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

For more information on the Mary Custis Straughn Excellence in Higher Education Disability Advocacy Award, or any of the other award programs coordinated by the Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity, please visit http://sites.udel.edu/diversity/awards/

Editor's note: This article was updated Nov. 10.  

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