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K-State Today

March 3, 2021

Disability Support Services team receives Friend Award for leadership in online education alliance

Submitted by Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance

Disability Support Services team members Bunnie Johnson-Messelt, North Dakota State University; Nancy Hartenhoff-Crooks, South Dakota State University; Barbara Hammer, University of Missouri; Jason Maseberg-Tomlinson, Kansas State University; and Steven Moats, Iowa State University, were honored with a 2021 Friend of the Great Plains IDEA Award. The team was celebrated for committed leadership in the academic alliance.

The honor came at the annual meeting of the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance, or Great Plains IDEA, on March 2. Carla Peterson, Nancy Rygg Armbrust professor of early childhood education at Iowa State University; Ann Pearce, assistant director of the Kansas State University Student Access Center; Jill Thorngren, professor and dean in the College of Education and Human Sciences at South Dakota State University; and Laura Oster-Aaland, vice provost for student affairs and enrollment management at North Dakota State University, nominated the team members.

"Each team member has worked tirelessly with students who have disabilities over a number of years," said Peterson, "…these individuals played key roles in establishing protocols for communications among universities regarding students’ disabilities and needs for instructional accommodation, thus making participating in GP IDEA programs possible for many students." 

Pearce has worked with a number of these team members over the years. She said, "Under the leadership of this core group, a process was created with the first priority being that it must work for the student…Great Plains IDEA has the belief that diversity fuels an innovative culture. Removing barriers provides opportunities for individuals with disabilities not only to excel but to contribute a unique perspective for the future." Pearce recognized that this team of individuals has been key in removing barriers for students.

Members of the Disability Support Services team work with students in all programs across the alliance. Each person plays an important role in the success of Great Plains IDEA. Great Plains IDEA brings together faculty from accredited universities to offer high-quality online academic programs cost-effectively. To take part in the inter-institutional programs, a student chooses one partner as a home institution for enrollment, transcript and graduation.