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MIT Names New ADA Coordinator

By Stacey E. Blau
Associate News Editor

Barbara Roberts, a disabilities services coordinator at the University of Rhode Island, has been named the new MIT disabilities services coordinator, according to Vice President for Human Resources Joan F. Rice.

The decision comes after a six month search for someone to take on responsibilities presently split among several MIT administrators. Rice made the final decision on the position late last month.

The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act mandates the designation of a Section 504 coordinator, a central administrator whose job is to aid disabled students and personnel and to educate the community about disabilities, Rice said.

Rice said she chose Roberts for having successfully brought to fruition a program for disabled persons in a university setting. "She is incredibly committed" to her work, Rice said. The University of Rhode Island even "offered her a sabbatical to get her to stay," she added.

Rice looked for a person who "worked as an advocate for disabled persons" and who could also see things "from the point of view of management." Experience with disabilities issues in the greater Boston area and prior work with both students and employees were also important considerations, Rice said.

As disabilities coordinator, Roberts will be responsible for working with students, faculty, and administrators, providing information about options, resources, and contacts in the Boston area, and working towards greater access for disabled persons to MIT facilities, Rice said.

Roberts will also function as an educator of students, faculty, and employees to make sure that the MIT community is sensitive to the needs of disabled persons. Roberts seemed the best qualified to "juggle those different things," Rice said.

Roberts has worked at the University of Rhode Island since 1984. She has also worked as an ADA mediator for Rhode Island state agencies and as a consultant for the Center for Neurophysiology and Learning Disorders in Rhode Island.

Picked from 180 applicants

The search for a coordinator began last October, when a committee convened to sift through the 180 applications for the position. The pool was narrowed to 11 applicants, whom the committee interviewed.

Only three were recommended to Rice, who conducted a second round of interviews and made the final selection. Roberts accepted the position March 22 and will begin working June 1, Rice said.

The search committee included people from areas of MIT that are affected by the implementation of the ADA on campus: Roy E. Ward, Physical Plant staff architect and designer; Stephen D. Immerman, director of special services; Bonnie J. Walters, associate dean for undergraduate academic affairs; M. Susan Jones, computer support services consultant; Nancy Collins, Personnel Office representative; Michael K. Owu, associate planning officer; Paul Parravano, assistant for community relations in the President's Office, and Sam Hartman '98.