A College of Liberal Arts staff member has been recognized for her efforts to accommodate students with special needs on the University of Mississippi campus.
Barbara Leeton, assistant to the dean of the College of Liberal Arts, is a 2013 recipient of the Office of Student Disability Services’ Access award, which honor employees for extraordinary support, creativity and encouragement while providing access for students with disabilities.
“I think it’s important to recognize these faculty and staff members because it’s a way of raising awareness,” said Stacey Reycraft, director of Student Disability Services. “It’s a way of thanking those people who understand that students with disabilities can succeed. You don’t have to lower your standards; you just have to be flexible and understand that disabilities cause students to just have to do things a little bit differently.”
Students submitted nominations for the faculty and staff members during Disability Awareness Month in April. The student who nominated both Leeton does not have an immune system, a severe chronic condition that results in multiple absences from school. Leeton demonstrated creativity and flexibility when helping this student in and out of the classroom.
Reycraft said Leeton helped the student drop classes in a timely manner, so that she could concentrate on the courses in which she remained enrolled.
“Barbara really worked with her on that process (of dropping classes) to ensure that it happened quickly, and that she got all the approvals from the instructors that she needed,” Reycraft said. “It allowed her the opportunity to focus on those classes in which she knew she had the flexibility.”
Leeton said she was surprised to find out she received the award and that she just tries her best on a daily basis to help students with special needs.
“I try to put myself in their place and try to understand what kinds of problems these students are dealing with, and see if I can help them resolve those issues,” Leeton said. “The reasons students come to see me vary from student to student, but I try to go the extra mile to help them.”
Leeton is a past recipient of the Frist Student Service Award for unwavering dedication.
According to a 2009 report by the U.S. Government Accounting Office, approximately 11 percent of all college students identify as having a disability. At UM, 598 enrolled students, or 4 percent of total students, are registered with Student Disability Services, though registration is not required.
Past recipients of the Access award include Sam Thomas, assistant vice chancellor for financial operations and instructor of accounting, and Linda Colley, secretary in the psychology department (2011-2012); Julie Anderson, instructor in mathematics, and Sue Hodge, retired assistant to the dean for undergraduate programs in the School of Business Administration (2010-2011); and Denis Goulet, lecturer and coordinator of laboratory programs in the biology department, and Natcha Knight-Evans, registration and records coordinator in the Office of the Registrar (2009-2010).