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Director appointed for new Disability Cultural Center

September 21, 2011

Jill Ouikahilo
(315) 443-8568

The Division of Student Affairs has appointed Diane R. Wiener as the first director of SU’s new Disability Cultural Center. Wiener will begin on Oct. 17.

“Dr. Wiener is to fill an important role at Syracuse University,” says Thomas V. Wolfe, senior vice president and dean of student affairs. “With the assistance of our partners across campus, the Disability Cultural Center will add to the richness of our campus diversity by creating a community that fosters pride in one’s identity and nurtures a culture of inclusion. Dr. Wiener’s wealth of knowledge and expertise provides the kind of stewardship the center will require in its inauguration, and we look forward to her leading this charge.”

From 2005 to 2011, Wiener served as an assistant professor at SUNY Binghamton in the Department of Social Work. She has extensive teaching, group facilitation, advising and mentoring. She also has significant experience in program development and management, leadership, counseling, disability advocacy, assessment and supervision. Wiener has worked closely with people with disabilities in non-therapeutic and therapeutic contexts, in accordance with sociocultural models of disability. She has particular interest in and experience with college students with disabilities.

“I believe it is crucial to examine the policies and factors that influence disabled and non-disabled people’s lives within communities, with the goal of achieving social and cultural change,” says Wiener. “In order to pursue this goal, I aim to facilitate critical thinking, writing and public communication, and extend myself as a mentor and adviser.”

Wiener has also worked as a graduate teaching associate and instructor of record at the University of Arizona, and as an adjunct faculty member and graduate adviser for the master of arts programs at the Prescott College Tucson Center. She worked with the Tucson Youth Development Midtown Neighborhood Project and the Tucson LGBTIQ Youth Suicide Prevention Project, as well as for many agencies and organizations in the social services and activist fields in New York, New Jersey and Arizona.

“The Disability Cultural Center (DCC) provides a place intentionally designed to create disability community, culture and pride across the University,” says Wendy Harbour, Lawrence B. Taishoff professor for Inclusive Education and executive director of the Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education. “Dr. Wiener’s outstanding history in disability studies, activism, community building and scholarship are a perfect match for the DCC. We welcome her to the SU community and eagerly look forward to watching the DCC become a model for colleges across the country.”

Wiener earned her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona, majoring in comparative cultural and literary studies and minoring in anthropology. She has a postgraduate certificate in medical anthropology, also from the University of Arizona. She received a B.S. in animal science from Rutgers University and an M.S.W. from Yeshiva University. She is registered as a licensed master social worker in the state of New York.

“I am delighted and honored to have been selected to direct this groundbreaking center, and to participate enthusiastically in the ongoing, excellent work and profound conversations about disabilities that have been taking place for many decades at Syracuse University,” says Wiener. “I have long admired SU’s national and international leadership and reputation in disability in higher education, disability and law, inclusivity, disability studies scholarship, and disability rights activism, among many other arenas. Beginning in this role as the director of the new Disability Cultural Center is, for me, a dream come true.”

The Disability Cultural Center will function as an umbrella organization under which social, cultural and educational programming related to disability and disability culture will take place. The initiative to create a University-wide disability cultural center began after the Chancellor’s Task Force on Disability recommended the establishment of a center in its 2007 report to the Chancellor. Supported by the Division of Student Affairs and the Center on Human Policy, Law and Disability Studies, graduate assistant Liat Ben-Moshe came on board as the coordinator of the initiative throughout the 2010-11 academic year.

The Disability Cultural Center will be a partner to other existing programs, groups and departments across campus, including the Beyond Compliance Coordinating Committee; the Office of Disability Services; Students United for Visual Access Today; the Disability Law Society; Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education; the Center on Human Policy, Law and Disability Studies; the Disability Law and Policy Program; the Burton Blatt Institute; the ACCESS and OnCampus programs; and the Institute on Communication and Inclusion.

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