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Nov. 11, 2010 Volume 32, No. 12


On supporting employees with disabilities

The lead story in the Nov. 4 edition of Mizzou Weekly, “Advocates renew commitment to improving “disability culture at MU,” might have left some readers with the impression that the Office of Service Learning had failed to offer the necessary support for an employee with a disability. 

The employee, Barbara Willis, coordinator of the civic leaders internship program, has a closed-head injury and requires the assistance of a specially trained service dog. The story, which quoted Willis and other advocates for employees with disabilities, noted that Willis “enjoys the full support of her supervisors.” 

However, that point could have appeared higher in the story, where it would have made clear for readers that Willis’ concerns about accommodations for employees with disabilities at MU are more general and do not apply to her situation.

In an e-mail, Willis said the Office of Service Learning is “a great place to work” and that her supervisor, Anne-Marie Foley, has been “outstanding” in accommodating her needs.

“The university as an institution can do better, but my employer has gone above and beyond in supporting my employment,” Willis said.

Foley said the impression that her department has been less than supportive of employees with disabilities is “profoundly unjust.” She said campus administrators, including Associate Provost Jim Spain and Barbara Hammer, director of the MU Office of Disability Services, “have witnessed the consistent advocacy and support demonstrated by this office for staff and students with disabilities.”