Disability Resources and Services, in conjunction with the Workforce Recruitment Program, held its annual employment program for students with disabilities on Thursday, despite the department’s lack of a director.
The former director, Dr. Dorothy Cebula, retired in January. Cebula served as director for more than 12 years.
“[Dorothy] moved Disability Resources to a much higher level. She established this program as one of the leading programs in the East Coast,” said Wendy Kohler, learning disabilities coordinator.
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Patrick Day commended Cebula for her longtime work in DRS.
“She was an excellent administrator,” he said. “She cared about individual students.”
Her ability to provide both faculty and students with answers to their concerns was a trait Day said he admired. Day emphasized, however, that the next director will be someone who would continue the progressive path Cebula left behind.
“We want someone who has strong demonstrative commitment to the students,” Day said.
The search for a new director has been difficult so far, according to Day. No candidate has met the university’s expectations, but he said he’s hopeful a qualified candidate will be found soon.
Day said he hopes to have a new director before the end of spring semester.
The employment program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense, aimed to successfully place disabled students into the workforce.
After being interviewed by a federal recruiter, students who qualify are inserted into a database, which is available to employers across the country. The program has had a 10-year relationship with Temple.
To qualify, disabled students must be registered as a full-time student and have at least a 2.5 grade point average.
Renee Kirby, associate director of Disability Resources, said the rate of employed Temple students stays consistent. On average, three or four students are chosen every year. The summer-long internship can turn into full-time employment for some, she said.
The purpose of the program is to boost the employment rate of disabled people in the United States.
Currently, the unemployment rate for this group is 76 percent.
“This is just one initiative to improve the rate,” Kirby said.
George Miller, a nontraditional student, began attending Temple in 2003. As a visually impaired student, he is unable to work at a conventional job, but he said he wants an equal opportunity at employment. This is the first year Miller, a 44-year-old musician from upstate Pennsylvania, participated in the workforce program.
“This is an opportunity to open up some doors. To open the future,” Miller said.
Miller said he researched accommodations for disabled students in other schools and found few that compared to Temple.
“Some other private, expensive and prestigious colleges don’t necessarily provide means of accommodation to their students,” Miller said. “I’ve always had my needs met.”
Michael Cowley, an equal opportunity specialist, interviewed students and expressed his continuous interest in the university.
“The students I interview from Temple are highly qualified. They are as equally qualified as students from other schools,” Cowley said.
As a representative of the Defense Supply Center of Philadelphia, Cowley said the program receives support from various schools and equal opportunity employers in Philadelphia.
“The people of Philadelphia have supported this program and that’s part of the spirit of the city,” Cowley said.
Dafney Tales can be reached at email@example.com.