Tuesday, April 23rd, 2024

New Leader for PA Inclusive Higher Education Consortium

Dr. Erica Jones has been appointed to fill the PIHEC leadership role for 2024.

Millersville University and the PA Inclusive Higher Education Consortium have announced that Dr. Erica Jones, professor in the Department of Exceptionality Programs at Commonwealth University at Lock Haven, has been appointed to fill the PIHEC leadership role for 2024. It was previously held by Dr. Ariana Amaya and Zach Hulings of Gwynedd Mercy University.

In 2020, the U.S. Department of Education awarded Millersville University a $2.38 million grant to expand its programs for students with intellectual disabilities. Millersville’s Dr. Thomas Neuville is the principal investigator of the grant.

The grant is in collaboration with Duquesne University , Gwynedd Mercy University, Commonwealth University – Lock Haven and Temple University. Additionally,  Temple University’s Institute on Disabilities serves as research coordinator. This significant collaboration was organized by the Pennsylvania Inclusive Higher Education Consortium, a division of Millersville University, which resulted from a previous DOE grant.

PIHEC is dedicated to the mission of inclusive postsecondary education for young adults with intellectual disabilities, a movement that began in the U.S. in the 1970s and has evolved toward robust, authentic college experiences only in recent decades. As educational policy and practice have begun to reflect the essential right to equal opportunities for students with disabilities, so too have expectations increased for the participation of students with intellectual disabilities in higher education.

Commonwealth University – Lock Haven, under the guidance of Jones, has developed an initiative for students with intellectual disability to attend university as full-time, non-degree-seeking students. This innovative and inclusive initiative represents a model for inclusive program development regionally and nationally.

Emily Gardner, a student currently enrolled in the inclusive program at Lock Haven, says “I have benefitted from the program and I get to do more things on my own. I am treated as an adult and benefit from peer coaches. The professors are more than willing to work with me.”  According to Jones, students increase independent living and social skills.

“Inclusion is one of our core values and motivates us to create a campus environment where differences can be expressed and respectfully heard and where every person experiences a sense of belonging,” says Dr. Daniel Wubah, president of Millersville University. “The Integrated Studies program at Millersville University ensures a vibrant community for ALL students.”

In a recent survey conducted by Think College nationwide and in Pennsylvania, young adults with intellectual disability who graduated with a credential, report that they have an employment rate of 73%, while adults with a cognitive disability nationally and in Pennsylvania are employed at a rate of 20%.

For more information contact Thomas Neuville at Millersville University, Thomas.neuville@millersville.edu.






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