Sunday, April 6, 2008

Scholar, filmmaker to head Temple U Institute on Disabilities

David Mitchell will become the new executive director of Temple University’s Institute on Disabilities July 1, replacing Diane Nelson Bryen, who is retiring.

Mitchell says in a Temple release that he plans to start a Ph.D. program in Disability Studies at Temple. Currently, only the University of Illinois-Chicago and the University of Leeds in Leeds, England offer Ph.D.'s in Disability Studies.

“Universities have been a ‘glass staircase,’” he said in the release, referring to the lack of research and academic work that has been done on people with disabilities and the challenges they face. “Disability studies was created to infuse universities with opportunities for people with disabilities and to bring to them the realization that we all share a public space.”

Mitchell and his wife, Sharon Snyder, are the producer/directors of the 1995 documentary, "Vital Signs: Crip Culture Talks Back." Distributed by Fanlight Productions, its description says: "This edgy, raw documentary explores the politics of disability through the performances, debates and late-night conversations of activists at a national conference on Disability & the Arts. Including interviews with well known disability rights advocates such as Cheryl Marie Wade, Mary Duffy and Harlan Hahn, Vital Signs conveys the intensity, variety and vitality of disability culture today."

Mitchell is also co-creator of the Disability Arts & Culture Center in Chicago, which I wrote about March 10.

I know both Mitchell and Bryen personally (Bryen served on my dissertation committee) and send them both all my best wishes on their new endeavors.