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February 6, 2014

First Lady Kate Broderick Honored for Her Work in Office of Educational Accessibility

Students, faculty, staff and friends packed the Webb Center front lobby Tuesday evening to honor Kate Broderick, Old Dominion's first lady, on her departure from the Office of Educational Accessibility.

Among the many tributes paid were emotional remarks from students Broderick has helped in her various roles within the office. She joined the office, known at the time as Disability Services, in 2005 as the learning coordinator. She later served as assistant director and director, before moving into a new role late last year as the university's liaison for external and faculty relations.

Current office director Beth Ann Dickie surprised Broderick at the event by announcing the establishment of The Kate Broderick Faculty Award for Excellence in Promoting Educational Accessibility. The new annual award will recognize an outstanding faculty member who intentionally designs classes and curricula that are accessible to all learners. The recipient of the award will receive a $500 professional development grant and an original piece of glass art that will symbolize the unique beauty, gifts and abilities of all students at ODU, Dickie said.

The division of Student Engagement and Enrollment Services (SEES) sponsored the celebration honoring Broderick.

Saying that Broderick "has spent most of her professional career advocating for students with disabilities in the pursuit of their educational goals," SEES Vice President Ellen Neufeldt further noted: "Kate always displays proper decorum with a mix of intelligence, warmth and charm that has made a great difference in our university and the Hampton Roads community. I know your service to the students will not end, because I have observed the way you interact with them face to face. Your demonstrated commitment to the students has parlayed into respect for your professional career at ODU. Thanks for all you do."

In her remarks, Broderick thanked those in attendance and paid tribute to her former supervisor and friend, the late Sheryn Milton, who headed the Office of Disability Services when Broderick joined it eight years ago. "When Sheryn was not well enough to continue as director, I inherited the title by default, since there were only two of us at the time. Her one request was simple to fulfill: She asked that I keep the office student-centered. And those of you who knew Sheryn, or worked with me, understood in our office, students were first - budgets and paperwork were a distant second."

Broderick, who was recently appointed to the Virginia State Rehabilitation Council, serves on multiple committees, both on campus and in the wider community, working to improve access to higher education for students with disabilities and promoting understanding of and compliance with the legal mandates of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

She has been a strong advocate for students with disabilities, not only at ODU, but also nationwide. She has published and presented on educational accessibility issues.

In 2012, she was honored with the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities' Humanitarian Award for her more than 30 years of working with people who have medical, psychological or learning disabilities. She is a past member of the board of directors of the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education, and a former executive board member for the Association for Higher Education (AHEAD).

topstory3-lg01President Broderick and first lady Kate Broderick were joined by members of their family at the program. Photo by Steve Daniel