Resources for Disabled Students

Winning Faculty

The following are winning nominations for the RDS Outstanding Effort Award for the category of faculty.


Dr. Peter Bechtel, Food Science and Human Nutrition (1995)

Dr. Bechtel has been more than cooperative in working with a deaf student to accommodate her needs within his academic department. This has required numerous hours of meetings and explanation of procedures, policies, etc. as well as working with individual faculty members working with the student. This particular student has brought unique needs to this campus and Dr. Bechtel has been more than willing to work with the challenges.

Leslie Patten, English (1996)

Leslie is excellent in the field of assisting students with disabilities and learning differences. Throughout her classes she has made a great effort to find out the learning style of students and goes out of her way to assist them in a variety of ways. For example, whenever papers were returned they were proofed and comments were made about it on disk for a student who used a talking computer. Also she always made time and any concession needed to allow students to get work done. Ms. Patten has consistently made extraordinary efforts to effectively assist all of her students to succeed regardless of their disability. She adjust to their disability without undermining their independence nor insulting their individuality. She holds them accountable without being unreasonable. This is a fine line to tread and she manages it masterfully. Her consistent high quality in performance shows in how well our students succeed as well as in how she is able to teach writing skills to a variety of learners.

Dr. Leslie Diverdi, Chemistry (1997)

Retention literature strongly suggests that the quality and frequency of student and faculty interactions are key factors in an institution's efforts to promote a student's commitment to, and attainment of, their educational goals at a specific institution. Dr. Diverdi clearly demonstrates how influential this interaction can be. She consistently provides time and energy to her students, maintain positive contacts with them even when they have had need to take her course more than once. She actually practices the philosophy that all students learn differently and responds appropriately to that belief by answering questions with patience and respect for each student's unique ability to grasp difficult concepts. As one of our sign language interpreters put it, having interpreted a specific chemistry class with other instructors before, she finally understood a certain concept once she interpreted the class for Dr. Diverdi, who made it seem so easy to understand. Dr. Diverdi has worked well with many of the disabled students who use our office. Her efforts have greatly helped students with disabilities feel less marginal and more involved with their academic course work. Many students with specific learning disabilities benefit greatly with one-on-one instructional methods in addition to lectures and reading textbooks. Dr. Diverdi has not only helped identify peer tutors for students, she has also personally provided many hours of one-on-one clarification and explanation for individual students. Students say that they can tell she truly understands that there are many learning styles based on their interactions with her. She does this without making students feel demeaned for not "catching on" as quickly as others might. Her efforts, too, to meet the unique learning needs of a variety of students are well balanced with maintaining her course standards for learning chemistry. Dr. Diverdi is a shining example of excellence in teaching, not only for students with disabilities, but for any student who is lucky enough to have her as an instructor.

Dr. Robert Gaines, Mathematics (1998)

As the former department chair, Dr. Gaines was in a position that proved very beneficial for students with disabilities, especially for those who would have difficulty with math and completing the math requirement of the university. Recognizing that not all students at CSU are math wizards and can tackle algebra and the module system successfully, he helped develop a useful alternative course for non-math majors. This alternative not only allowed students to complete the requirement for math in one semester, the course also took a different approach to teaching applied mathematical concepts. However, when even this course proved too much for individual students, especially those with learning disabilities, Dr. Gaines was willing to evaluate students on their own individual efforts. In addition to providing another way for students to complete their requirement for graduation, Dr. Gaines' focus in working with students has always been to give students exposure to math concepts as well as helping them learn how to apply these concepts to everyday life. Having been nominated several times for this award, it is about time he is acknowledged for his support and understanding of students who have a variety of needs and abilities.

Mark Frasier, Anatomy and Neurobiology (1999)

Mr. Frasier has gone out of his way to help students with disabilities in his class, especially those who are deaf. One example of his effort has been to set up a specific day for these students to review lab materials and in general he is open to individual learning styles that helps in accommodating a variety of needs in a classroom environment. Overall, his understanding and empathy for those who must acquire and learn information differently sets him apart from his peers. The manner in which he interacts with any student is never condescending and always supportive, not only of students but of Resources for Disabled Students staff. He is highly regarded by the students who have him for an instructor and by the RDS staff who work with him to provide appropriate accommodations. Mr. Frasier has shown consistent support of students with disabilities by attending workshops and meetings to learn how best to work with this unique population. He gives many hours to helping all students and seems dedicated to helping any student, with or without a disability, to succeed.

Brian Dunbar, Design and Merchandising (2000)

Brian Dunbar, for over 12 years, has increased the awareness of design students to the importance of planning environments that are free of barriers. Professor Dunbar, with the help of student staff at RDS organizes, guides, and evaluates the annual Barrier Free Design Competition. And, despite the difficulties in arranging and coordinating our events with his class and the contest, he has continued to be the most consistent supporter of our awareness efforts. The task is a large one for him. First, he works to select a local building that is in need of increased accessibility and then provides students with exercises, information and experience that allow them to successfully eliminate barriers while they redesign the building. Over 400 students and 30 building owners and users have learned to design spaces for people with various disabilities under Professor Dunbar's guidance. Each year the projects are exhibited at the Foothills Fashion mall as well as on campus further educating others about the importance of designing for people of all abilities. Professor Dunbar's work to continually find appropriate buildings to improve, his knowledge of the laws, codes, and his guidance to students in designing for people with disabilities deserves recognition as he is influencing how our future environment will be created. Gina Carpenter, a former student, remarked that through the project Professor Dunbar has instilled "barrier free thinking" into the careers of designers which ultimately has a positive affect on the lives of numerous people with disabilities.

Bill Reinke, English (2001)

Bill Reinke is an instructor for Creative Writing. Bill has Amy and Kerri in his class. He has been very good about getting me extra material for class before they need it. He also was able to lend me his copies of the books before the semester started so I could convert them into Alternative Text. Bill Reinke, as an instructor for Creative Writing, has demonstrated his willingness to ensure that students in his class have an equal opportunity to learn and to participate. This semester he has had two students with visual impairments. Both have required accommodations that have needed lots of planning and cooperation in order to have written material translated into a usable form for these students. Mr. Reinke has been exceptional about getting the extra material for class to RDS for conversion before the material has been needed so the students would have the material in a timely manner. Mr. Reinke has also lent copies of the books used in class prior to the beginning of the semester so that RDS could convert the print material into a more usable format. His cooperation and partnership with RDS exemplifies the efforts of an instructor that truly believes in equal opportunity in the classroom.

Dr. Terry Deniston, School of Education (2002)

Dr. Terry Deniston is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education. Her commitment to individuals with disabilities and their families is evidenced in her work both on and off campus. In fact, Terry is passionate about the subject, and anyone who has worked with her is touched by her firm belief in the value of inclusion of students with disabilities. Terry comes directly from the front lines as she worked in special education in several states before coming to Colorado State University. Important areas of interest for her are inclusive schools and communities and advocating for students with disabilities. Terry's work in this area is extensive and includes teacher training in the Colorado State Teacher Licensure program where she directly influences future teachers and their thinking about students with disabilities. Terry has also written or is assisting with several grants in the disability area. Terry was introduced to the disability community in the mid 1980's when she attended a Parents Encouraging Parents conference and her connection has lasted over 15 years resulting in her working in schools and communities around the state. In addition, Colorado State students gain insights about the joys and struggles including all children in public education and local communities through her teaching. As a former special educator, Terry has observed the exclusion of individuals who have disability labels. She facilitates teams across the state of Colorado who are trying to create more inclusive schools through a person-centered planning approach. While at the university, Terry has also included students with disabilities in her courses. Students with a variety of disabilities (e.g. learning disabilities, hearing impairment, bi-polar disorder, acquired brain injury, and developmental disabilities) have reported that her classroom is a safe place to be honest about their disability. Terry works hard to encourage capabilities of young people with disabilities no matter what their age. In the end, reciprocity is what her advocacy efforts are all about. Labeled "mentally retarded" in elementary school because of a learning difficulty, it was only through the efforts of her 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Toca, that Terry realized that she did not have to be defined by a label. Working to prevent students being shortchanged by socially constructed or deficit-driven labels is Terry's mission. Terry's aim is to assure that all citizens, particularly students at the university or in our other public schools, are given the opportunity to make their contribution to our schools and communities. Terry's work on behalf of students with disabilities and her personal convictions about their ability to succeed given the proper support systems and encouragement make her more than deserving of this prestigious award.

Rick Gumina, Statistics (2003)

Rick Gumina has a talent for communicating with students who have a wide variety of learning styles and/or math anxiety. He has a willingness to flex, without jeopardizing the standards of his course while meeting the learning needs of students. And he has often gone the extra mile for a student who is struggling, putting in hours of individual time to work with a student if needed. He seems to have a rare and special talent for explaining mathematics and statistics in such a way that even students with a phobic dislike for those subjects are able to succeed in passing them. He starts with the student's current understanding and helps them build upon it while also allowing them to take credit for their efforts and achievement. This respectful and educationally sound method leaves a student's self respect intact, instills trust, and allows the student's motivation to learn to thrive. In spite of his hectic schedule as a teaching faculty member, Rick has always been very cooperative working with students with disabilities and in arranging accommodations. Rick has made himself available to students during testing situations to answer questions if they should occur and with math and/or statistics, there are always questions. In summary, he has demonstrated what it means to be a conscientious instructor. He is committed to student success and attainment of knowledge and is mindful and respectful of individual learning styles and needs. And, there are likely students who would not have graduated without his effort in supporting their success.

Scott Dreucker, Biomedical Sciences (2004)

Scott has a long history of successfully accommodating students within Biomedical Sciences courses. It can be very difficult to arrange accommodations due to the laboratory nature of the courses. Scott goes above and beyond making sure these accommodations are met nonetheless. This semester, according to one student, not only has he allowed the student to split an exam into two parts so the student could take it with plenty of time without jeopardizing commitments to other classes, he also has offered to print questions on purple paper and provide florescent lighting. He has a history, too, of making himself available for help to all students. His two past nominations attest to his willingness and flexibility in ensuring students with disabilities are able to participate to the best of their ability, not disability, in the courses he oversees. He is an instructor who knows the true meaning of academic achievement and is willing to be creative in finding the most appropriate manner in which to test what students know, not how well they do within a particular set of environmental factors. For that and many other student friendly qualities, Scott is an excellent role model of an instructor who lives up to the letter of the law as well as its intent and spirit.

Lorella Paltrinieri, Foreign Language and Literature (2005)

Lorella Paltrinieri more than certainly deserves this award as a faculty member who demonstrates outstanding effort on behalf of students with disabilities. In the Fall of 2004, a deaf student decided he wanted to take Italian. While many may think this would be a formidable task for a student who cannot hear as well as others, it is also a formidable task for an instructor to adapt a curriculum for the student and to also support the interpreters who would need to learn the language along with the student. Ms. Paltrinieri proved up to the task through her creativity and flexibility. For example, the oral requirement of bi-weekly exams required a triple time commitment to make sure the student was able to read her lips, the interpreters' lips and any other method possible to ensure he was given equal access to such strictly audible information. The student was also offered options to fulfill the requirements in language labs and a highly recommended tutor was identified who just happened to be a previous student of Ms. Paltrinieri. While others may have been hesitant with the prospect of having a deaf student in a language class, Ms. Paltrinieri jumped in and made all the difference for the success of the student as well as making it an enjoyable and learning experience for the interpreters. She truly is an example for other faculty members in establishing a most effective partnership with RDS, the student and an academic discipline. 


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