Lee Henson Access Mizzou Awards honor those working to create a more accessible MU

The event recognized a staff member, student, faculty member, student group and campus organization.

Dozens of members of the MU community filled the Great Room in the Reynolds Alumni Center on Oct. 10 to celebrate the Lee Henson Access Mizzou Award Ceremony.

Named after the man who created the Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator position at MU, the Lee Henson award was created in 2014 by the Chancellor’s Committee for Persons with Disabilities to honor those working to make MU a more accessible campus.

Jim de Jong, executive director of the Great Plains ADA Center, served as Master of Ceremonies for the evening. De Jong has devoted more than 26 years to ensuring accessibility.

“I think we’ve always heard about how it takes a village to raise a child, and I think what I’m learning lately is that it takes accessible and inclusive campuses to raise a nation,” de Jong said.

The event recognized a staff member, student, faculty member, student group and campus organization.

Susan Lever, a chemistry professor, won the staff award for the years she served as chair of the Chancellor’s Committee on Diversity.

“I have a simple motivation, and I’m sure I share it with all of you in the room, and it is to help others achieve their dreams. Pure and simple,” Lever said.

Junior Allison Romano won the student award for her work as the philanthropic chair of her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma. Under her leadership, the organization raised $52,000 for Cedar Creek Therapeutic Riding Center, a nonprofit organization that uses horse riding as a means of therapy for those with special needs. The donation was the single largest gift that the center has received to date.

“I really am thankful for all the challenges and opportunities that Mizzou provides me,” Romano said.

Jessica Brownfield, an interior decorator who works with the Department of Residential Life, won the faculty award for her efforts to ensure “universal design” for all residence halls. Universal design ensures the accessibility and inclusivity of public spaces.

The Mizzou Unity Coalition took the student group award. The disability access group was recognized for their “Integrating Tigers” program and their efforts to combine disability groups with larger diversity groups on campus.

Mizzou Creative won the campus organization award for their work to create accessible websites and software.

“We’re all super stoked to have been recognized in this way,” said Jason Rollins, associate director of Mizzou Creative.

Maggie Henson, the late wife of Lee Henson, briefly spoke in support of the award recipients.

“I appreciate all that you’re doing to keep up with the work that he started here,” Henson said.

Edited by Kyra Haas | khaas@themaneater.com

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