Access Mizzou

Recognizing dedication to disability awareness and advocacy.

Group photo

Members of the MU community receive the Lee Henson Access Mizzou Award Oct. 12 for their dedication to disability awareness and advocacy.

Story by Kelsey Allen
Photos courtesy MU Disability Center
Published Oct. 16, 2015

When Lee Henson saw something on campus that wouldn’t accommodate people with disabilities, he fixed it, or he empowered someone else to lead the way. Whether it was building a curb ramp or installing an electronic door, Henson worked to improve accessibility on campus. The longtime director of accessibility and American with Disabilities Act education died in 2013, but campus and community members have picked up his torch.

During Celebrate Ability Week, the Chancellor’s Committee for Persons with Disabilities presented the Lee Henson Access Mizzou Awards to members of the MU community who have improved inclusiveness of individuals with disabilities.


Established in 2014 by the Chancellor’s Committee on Persons with Disabilities, the Lee Henson Access Mizzou Award was created in memory and honor of Lee Henson, MU’s former ADA coordinator.

“We want to shine a light on efforts that often go unnoticed in addressing accessibility, championing universal design or modeling the commitment to improving the inclusion of persons with disabilities,” says Barbara Hammer, BS Ed ’77, M Ed ’78, director of the MU Disability Center.

James DeJong, director of the Great Plains ADA Technical Assistance Center, received the 2015 Lee Henson Access Mizzou Lifetime Award. The center works to affect accessibility policies, legislation, design, employment and education at MU. For example, the center has a standing offer to review all MU building projects in the planning stage. Staff members have reviewed construction plans for Mizzou Arena, Gwynn and Stanley halls, and Mark Twain Residence Hall. DeJong, an instructor in the architectural studies department, also works with students and faculty to improve instruction in universal design.

“The staff takes pride in developing solutions that are successful and cost effective,” says Ruth Tofle, BS HE ’72, chair of architectural studies. “They look at the big picture without losing sight of critical details, recognizing that each entity has unique needs. They embody ‘One Mizzou’ through accessibility and inclusion.”

Other award recipients include:

  • Joanne Rotert, BJ ’81, a strategic communication associate in Printing Services, who created the 2015 university calendar titled “A Look at Accessibility at Mizzou.” The calendar includes informative pictures and details about the American with Disabilities Act. “She provided information to thousands of individuals across campus about the MU accessibility policy not once or twice but every day throughout 2015,” says Susan Lever, associate professor of chemistry.
  • Jude Wawrzyniak, Jennifer Sullivan, BA ’86, MA ’90, and Matt Thomas of Campus Facilities; Robert Schwartz, Jan Wiese-Fales, BA ’83, Whitney Hays, Jennifer Hollis, Kathy Weston, Brenna Naufel, Melanie Carraher and Kathy Appuhn-Hodges of the College of Engineering; and Brad Grimes of Tarleton Corp. for ensuring the Lafferre Hall renovation is accessible for persons with disabilities. The renovated Lafferre Hall will have a universally designed front entrance — a symbol of universal design and access, says Amber Cheek, JD ’12, manager of accessibility and ADA education. “This is an excellent example of what happens when accessibility is made a priority and immensely talented people work together to make it happen,” she says.
  • Division of IT enterprise architect Kirk Keller, BGS ’85, MA ’89; Carmen Schafer of the Adaptive Computing Technology Center; and Amy Robbins in Procurement Services for ensuring the university procures accessible software so students and employees with disabilities can easily take part in campus life.

Also recognized for their efforts were:

  • Stephanie Logan, PhD ’09, assistant adjunct professor in the School of Health Professions, for teaching American Sign Language, forming bridges between the deaf and hearing community, and leading the Leadership through Education and Advocacy for the Deaf Institute.
  • Staff at the Mizzou Pharmacy in the MU Student Center for offering free campus delivery of prescriptions and increasing accessibility to medications for people with disabilities.

For more information on the Lee Henson Access Mizzou Awards, visit

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