Nancy Thaler
Nancy Thaler

An inclusive initiative is set to take place at Millersville University (MU) from April 5-7, and a diverse audience of students, educators, professionals, researchers and community members have been included in the invitation to participate.

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Dan Habib

“The Symposium is a platform to learn and discuss strategies and best practices, and to discover what is needed to ensure an inclusive environment where everyone belongs within a postsecondary education,” says Dr. Ann Marie Licata, the director of the Pennsylvania Inclusive Higher Education Consortium. “Our ultimate goal is to provide support and assistance to anyone who may be interested in this critical topic that enhances the culture of the Millersville University campus and higher education throughout the Commonwealth.”

This year’s initiative, entitled “Belonging: The Landscape of Inclusive Postsecondary Education in Pennsylvania,” is an opportunity for families, students, faculty and staff to participate while looking to several experts to guide the conversation.

Al Condeluci
Al Condeluci

The keynote speaker lineup features Nancy Thaler, deputy secretary for Pennsylvania’s Office of Developmental Programs; Al Condeluci, chief operating officer of Community Living and Support Services; Dan Habib, filmmaker at the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability; and David De Notaris, executive director of the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.

The Symposium will feature over 28 workshops and events. Breakout sessions are facilitated by teachers, counselors, researchers, students and others engaged in inclusive practices, particularly in the realm of postsecondary education.

David De Notaris
David De Notaris

Licata explains that these speakers “will be providing strong insights on state and national perspectives on the topic of belonging and the necessity to include everyone in higher education.”

Symposium 2017 is being conducted by the Pennsylvania Inclusive Higher Education Consortium (PIHEC), a collaboration between MU, Penn State Harrisburg, Temple University and Mercyhurst University. The inclusive initiative hopes to further develop MU’s postsecondary education model for students with intellectual disabilities and encouraging program development among other Pennsylvania institutions of higher education.

“The overarching vision of the Consortium is to design and support postsecondary campus settings in which education, authentic social experiences, independent living and integrated and competitive employment can be accessed by young adults with intellectual disabilities within inclusive and supportive environments,” explains Licata.

Millersville University hosted the first Symposium in 2015 and co-sponsored the second at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in 2016. The 2017 initiative features experts from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey, as well as staff from ThinkCollege, a national organization dedicated to improving higher education options for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Attendees may opt to participate in any or all of the three days of events. Tickets cost $35 for a single day and $75 for three days. Students and PIHEC members may attend for free, but registration is required.

To register for Symposium 2017, go to millersville.edu/pihec/events. Any other inquiries may be directed to Dr. Ann Marie Licata at AnnMarie.Licata@millersville.edu.

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