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K-State Today

January 23, 2014

Dandaneau helps develop, teach disabilities studies course

Submitted by Chelsea Gerber

Dandaneau Professional Headshot

Since beginning as Kansas State University’s inaugural vice provost for undergraduate studies in August 2012, Steven Dandaneau has worked to support K-State undergraduates in their pursuit of academic achievement. Dandaneau’s focus is to enhance the quality and value of K-State’s undergraduate educational experience, which is key to the K-State 2025 goal to become a Top 50 public research university.

“It’s all about access to excellence. We want as many students as possible to earn degrees in a timely manner and for those degrees to facilitate lifelong learning, as well as achievement of their most lofty ambitions,” Dandaneau said.

As part of this broader mission, Dandaneau serves as a champion for the School of Leadership Studies. With his office located in the Leadership Studies Building, Dandaneau has contributed firsthand to many of the school's programs. Dandaneau has, for example, served as a LEAD 212 discussion leader and he participated in the Service Learning Institute, experiences that have inspired him to extend his work into the classroom through the university’s First Year Seminar.

Mary Tolar, director of the School of Leadership Studies, said, “Dr. Dandaneau is an advocate for student and academic experiences, he cares about students individually and collectively, and works hard to ensure that resources and structures of the institution are used in the best intent of students and their success."

As part of the service learning effort across campus, Dandaneau worked with Trisha Gott, assistant director for service learning and instructor at Leadership Studies, to develop a K-State First Seminar on disabilities studies, which Dandaneau taught in the 2013 fall semester. The class had 10 freshmen who applied the formal concepts taught by Dandaneau in the classroom via their service, with the help of several key partnerships, to the K-State and local community. For example, students assisted a graduate student in the College of Architecture, Planning & Design to test wheelchair access to outside entrances on campus.

“In Dr. Dandaneau's class, I developed a deeper understanding of the relationship between society and disabilities. My perspective changed not only as to how I view disabilities, but also as to how society determines normal versus disabled,” said Sydney Edmisten, freshman in open option.

Students also partnered with the K-State undergraduate group, Wildcat Buddies, which works with clients at the Big Lakes Development Center, which serves individuals with developmental disabilities in Manhattan and surrounding areas. Dandaneau’s students put their learning throughout the semester into action through their service with Big Lakes clients, including a specially planned year-end holiday celebration.

Dandaneau’s impact on students is evident through the transformational learning he has helped facilitate in the classroom.

Alex Thibault, freshman in open option, said, “My biggest takeaway in the disabilities studies class is to not take things to be true on the basis that someone told you so. Find out for yourself what is true.”