The Accessibility Resource Center at Cabrini, ARC, has been helping and assisting students for years and is a key resource for students with disabilities. After losing its director, Kathy Johnson, of 10 years, the ARC is still operating at full potential by providing students with the guidance they need, despite a lengthy hiring search for a new director.
Dr. Kimberly L. Boyd, dean for Retention and Student Success, described what the ARC is to Cabrini and how members of the community benefit from its support.
“ARC is part of the Center for Student Success at Cabrini. The ARC is for students, staff, faculty, or community members who might qualify for accommodations through the Americans with Disabilities Act or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act for additional services to make sure that there’s equity and justice in the things that they receive,” Boyd said.
Not only does the ARC just focus on students, but they also target other individuals that need academic support. Boyd described the types of students the ARC aids when academic service is needed.
“About half of the students that use our ARC services this year have learning differences. We have a small population with physical health issues that might warrant accommodations. The other half are co-diagnosed with mental health issues, such as general anxiety disorder and depression,” Boyd said.
The ARC creates an easier transition for students moving from high school to college and gives them opportunities to enhance their learning experience.
Accommodations for first-year students
“Most of the students that work with us are first-year students, and part of ARC’s job is to help them transition from high school to college, to help them understand the differences and the kind of support that we can provide. We’re helping them become better advocates for themselves and helping them gain that self-advocacy,” Boyd said. “A lot of students qualify for really simple things like extended testing time, testing in a distraction-reduced environment, and access to technologies.”
Julia Singer, junior education major, uses the ARC’s resources and was happy to discuss their work. “My experience with the ARC has been amazing,” she said. “I have been in the program for over two years now, and I will 100 percent be using it for the rest of my college years.”
“By meeting with my advisor once weekly, she really helps me to keep track of my assignments and is super supportive when it comes to my accommodation on my Verified Individualized Services and Accommodations document. The ARC is a true lifesaver,” Singer said.
However, the office still needs a leader. Boyd said of Johnson, “She retired. She’s off doing new things like being a grandma, and all those good parts of retirement life.”
Johnson’s departure left a gap in the ARC’s staff and they must find a replacement, which could take a long time.
Boyd said, of the lengthy hiring process, “We have to go through the search process, so part of that obviously involves getting the approvals to rehire. We have to review a job description, we get approvals from human resources, we post the position, we do interviews, and then we onboard. Usually, that takes six weeks to two months, especially in a really challenging hiring market.”
Boyd also reflected on the struggle of finding staff who want to be on campus and in person.“The ARC is a student-facing office. We want our people here, so we went through the search process, and ultimately, we identified the perfect candidate amongst our own. So, Christy Leigh was promoted from an internal position to the head of the ARC area now, so she is getting settled.”
Now that Leigh is part of the ARC as an assistant director, the center will be almost running at full speed.
The future of the ARC
After its search for new faculty, Boyd outlined potential goals for the ARC, such as, “whether there are other students that we’re not serving to the best of our ability. Some of our colleagues, Eastern and Saint Joe’s, have programs that specialize for students who are on the autism spectrum. For some individuals, having the level of support we currently provide isn’t enough. There are other things that we could do to make sure that they can be successful and achieve their academic, social, and career goals.”
As the ARC grows and evolves, the center explores more ideas to ensure that students have the best resources available. Despite encountering bumps in the road, the ARC staff are succeeding.
“It’s always challenging because there are gaps in staffing, but those are just typical things of running a business,” Boyd said.