Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Scholar, poet to take helm of Toledo disability studies program

James Ferris, currently communications faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has been named chairman of the endowed Disabilities Studies Program at the University of Toledo.

"I'm hoping to develop the Disabilities Studies Program at the university into an outstanding program," Ferris said. "I'm hoping to develop it in ways that it will serve as a model for other programs around the country."

Also a poet and performer, Ferris is the author of Facts of Life (2005) and The Hospital Poems (2004). He has experience as a performance artist, director, playwright and actor and is the past president of the Society for Disability Studies. You can read one of his poems as part of the educator resources at the Web site of VSA Arts, which promotes the inclusion of people with disabilities in the arts.

The chairman's position is funded by a $1.9 million endowment awarded to the University of Toledo. The Ability Center's mission is to empower people to live, work and socialize in a fully accessible community. The center is founded on the belief that a disability is an integral part of the human condition.