WATCHDOG FOR JUSTICE
Nancy Mudrick is like David taking on Goliath. The only difference is the professor of social work has some help going up against her particular giant.
Mudrick and three colleagues were recruited for the Disabilities Civil Rights Monitoring Project by the National Council on Disability (NCD), an independent federal agency led by 15 members who were appointed by President Clinton. The group is examining how federal agencies enforce disability civil rights laws and how effective their public information activities are about these laws.
"I teach about discrimination in my policy classes, so I am excited about the opportunity to participate at the national level in enforcing the rights of people who are discriminated against," Mudrick says.
More specifically, Mudrick's team will examine the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act; the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, formerly the 1975 Education for All Handicapped Children Act; the Fair Housing Act; and the 1986 Air Carrier Access Act. "We are looking at the agencies to see if they do their jobs," she says, "and whether people with disabilities receive appropriate access to public life. We also want to know what kinds of complaints are received and how agencies respond. Public information needs to be circulated and education provided so that people with disabilities know their rights."
In addition to meeting with focus groups composed of people with disabilities who filed grievances and cataloging the kinds of public information released, Mudrick, her colleagues, and graduate students assisting on the project will analyze data from the discrimination complaints received by these agencies. They hope to learn the issues that are being investigated, how claims are resolved, the length of time required to resolve claims, and how customer service satisfaction is evaluated throughout the entire complaint process.|
According to Mudrick, discrimination against people with disabilities reaches far back into history. "When there are no ramps into a building, no TDDs (telecommunications devices for the deaf) on the phone, or when classrooms are segregated in public schools, it's parallel to when African Americans were not allowed in restaurants in the sixties," says the professor of social work. "There's a strong message being sent to people with disabilities that they are being excluded."
The group's ultimate goal is to produce a report that the National Council on Disability will issue to Congress with recommendations for improvements in current federal agency policies and procedures for people with disabilities. "In the agencies' defense, we are finding evidence of improvements being implemented by these agencies, but access problems for those with disabilities still exist," Mudrick says. "Clearly there is room for improvement."
NATALIE A. VALENTINE
REDESIGNING THE DEPARTMENT OF DESIGN
Recent renovations to the Department of Design's shop area in Smith Hall mean a more productive environment for students and faculty within the College of Visual and Performing Arts.
These improvements, complete after five years of work, have been in place since September. "Faculty members and students provided input to develop a more effective space in which to create models and prototypes of their work," says design professor Jerome Malinowski.
The facility was enlarged with distinct areas allotted for working with metal, wood, plastics, plaster, mold-making, welding, and soldering. New machinery has been added, such as planing machines and a series of new standing units. These improvements allow space for students to create large mock-ups of such products as exteriors and interiors of vehicles and other larger items. There are specific, well-ventilated areas for spraying materials, and, to meet the requirements of such a large facility, a completely new dust collection system was installed.
Graduates can seek New York State nurse practitioner certification and national certification as clinical nurse specialists in their specialty areas. Essman says the program's broad education enables students to choose their paths in nursing.
First-year student Donna Felton's goal is to work as a nursing instructor. She hopes her studies increase her value in the job market. "I think the school was very savvy in saying it wanted to have a role in producing nurse practitioners that are geared toward adult, family, and pediatric care," she says.
Dawn Schmalzriedt, a first-year student working toward a pediatric nurse practitioner degree, says she particularly benefits from the program's first-semester focus on well children. "By providing us with the opportunity to see a whole semester's worth of well children, the program provides us with a great base so that when we do see sick kids or abnormalities, we can more easily identify them."|
The College of Nursing is known for visionary leadership, Pedersen says. "We anticipate the needs for health care and how the systems are changing in order to educate our students for the future. We know what it takes to get there."
The workshop accommodates what Malinowski predicts will be a greater emphasis on hand tools by including a separate area for them. "Basic hand skills replaced by computer skills are going to be called back again," Malinowski says. "The designer has to understand the materials. By creating a shop facility you can better understand what you're designing." The new workshop, he adds, offers the opportunity for "a more holistic approach" by combining both computer and hand work.
The shop was funded primarily by alumni, including Eric Anderson '97, Leonard Eisen '56, Gianfranco Zaccai '70, and the late David Chase '54. Malinowski expects a positive response from students and faculty. "It has the potential for creating a lot of enthusiasm and a more professional environment to work within," he says.