Office of Accessibility Services

Overview

As Brenau University has grown to add multiple new programs of study and the accessibility needs of our student population have grown dramatically in the last 5 years, the need to expand our support services and the physical space for testing and tutoring sessions became apparent. As of January 2022, the Learning Center was renamed the Office of Accessibility Services and remains under the direction of Professor Jennifer Loggins. The focus of our office is on providing accommodations request processing, advocacy, interactive support, alternative format textbooks and test proctoring sessions for students who have documented disabilities and learning differences. The professional tutoring and academic coaching program has now moved under a newly created expanded department, the Center for Academic Success, located next door in the former Math SPA building. This new center will provide professional, peer and faculty tutoring services to students. The Coordinator of Tutoring Services, Lisa Christopher, is the point of contact for students who are seeking all tutoring and academic coaching services through the Center for Academic Success.

The Center for Academic Success is under the direction of Professor Didi Cassell, Executive Director of Academic Initiatives & Student Success/Assistant Professor of Chemistry. Both the Office of Accessibility Services and the Center for Academic Success are initiatives of the Vice President for Academic Affairs, Provost Dr. Jim Eck. The staff of both offices collaborate frequently for case management, ensuring services are provided holistically based on the individual support needs of each student.

The Office of Accessibility Services provides a quiet, reduced-distraction testing environment in which students may take course tests and final exams in lieu of the larger classroom environment. The Office Manager schedules and coordinates with faculty regarding all testing appointments. Our Office Manager and Test Proctors provide supervision for individual/small group testing appointments for students with testing accommodations. Virtual test proctoring via Zoom is available for students who are unable to come to our center location located on the Historic Gainesville Campus. Technology is used to increase the accessibility to all of our services to all students. Students at the regional campuses or who are enrolled in the online program can receive test proctoring virtually online via Zoom and with the use of a webcam.

The Office of Accessibility Services is the point of contact for all disability service (Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA) related matters for Brenau University. As more students in higher education seek accommodations (1 in 4 US college students seek accommodations), we will continue to evaluate and progressively expand accessibility services to meet student needs as they evolve.

History

The Learning Center at Brenau University was established in 1983 when a faculty proposal to create a support program for students with learning disabilities was voted upon and passed. Brenau was already serving students with diagnosed learning disabilities and the need to further assist these students was recognized.  Ms. Karen Pfunder, a professor of special education, became the first Learning Center Director.  The support program was designed to help current students learn compensatory skills, as well as to assist future students beginning their educational program. From this point forward, Brenau has offered one of the most highly structured and supportive programs for students with learning disabilities which has attracted students from many states. Students who utilize the Learning Center’s services tend to earn higher grades, report feeling more confident in their ability to achieve academic success and overcome barriers to success.

From the very beginning, Brenau recruited college-able students who needed a special program to help them succeed.  The Learning Center’s testing accommodation services and tutoring program, combined with Brenau’s personalized approach to teaching and small class sizes, proved to be an excellent combination for students who have learning disabilities. Although the program was initially established for students with learning disabilities, it quickly became a program serving students with a variety of accessibility needs and disabilities (physical, mobility, mental, emotional and learning disabilities).

The Learning Center evolved over the next thirty years under the direction of Dr. Vince Yamilkoski who served a dual role as the Director of the Learning Center and Professor of Education.  Dr. Yamilkoski even helped to launch the Writing Center (housed inside the university’s Trustee Library) in addition to continually looking for ways to improve the Learning Center’s supportive services. The Learning Center’s tutoring program was made available to international students by Dr. Yamilkoski as Brenau welcomed increasing numbers of international students.

Dr. Yamilkoski retired in 2017, after mentoring licensed professional counselor Jennifer Wilson Loggins as she was chosen as the new Director. Professor Loggins also teaches Abnormal Psychology, Human Growth & Development and Clinical Counseling Supervision for Brenau University’s Lynn J. Darby School of Psychology and Adolescent Counseling. With a background in psychological evaluation testing and report writing, teaching, disability advocacy, professional tutoring and counseling under-served populations, Professor Loggins holistically supports students as the Disability Service Provider (DSP) for the university. She reviews documentation of disability and meets with students to determine reasonable accommodations through an interactive process to ensure equitable educational access for all students. Professor Loggins provides one-on-one guidance and support for students, collaborates with faculty on policy and procedures related to ADA/ADAAA/Section 504 and acts as an advocate for students as they become confident in their self-advocacy skills. In 2021, Professor Loggins started the Brenau Chapter of the national student organization D.R.E.A.M. Disability Rights, Education, Activism, and Mentoring.