Oct. 21, 2020Print | PDF
Gwen Page, the director of Accessible Learning, is retiring after 14 years at Laurier. Under her leadership, her team has served thousands of students with permanent and temporary disabilities, lifting barriers to ensure they have equal opportunities to succeed academically.
The number of students seeking support has tripled since Page joined Laurier in 2006, as a result of reduced stigma, a greater awareness of the services offered and a broadened understanding of what constitutes a disability and our obligation to respond. Students are more willing than ever to seek out accommodation support, she says.
“Despite the growing numbers of students, the vast majority succeed and graduate alongside their peers and then go on to do amazing things – they go to med school and law school and become teachers, community service providers and business owners,” she says. “The students are incredible. I admire their strength, tenacity and willingness to share their stories and to have us join them on their journey.”
Page has spearheaded change at the university, developing and implementing policies and procedures, in line with provincial legislation, to ensure students with disabilities have fair and equitable access to academic accommodations. To best support students, she’s built partnerships across the university and found creative and effective solutions in order to make the best use of the resources at Laurier.
“Every single day has been a learning opportunity,” she says. “There were lots of opportunities to affect change both institutionally and individually, in terms of shifting people’s perceptions of students with disabilities. I hope I’ve moved the needle a little bit in changing people’s thinking on disabilities and the importance of creating an inclusive environment.”
“Gwen’s leadership of Accessible Learning has been absolutely central to Laurier’s commitment to ensuring that all Laurier students have opportunities for equal participation in the uniquely rich educational experiences that we provide to our students,” says Mary Wilson, vice provost of Teaching and Learning. “She has been such an effective guide to students, faculty and staff, and such a wonderful advocate for accessible learning and inclusive teaching. She will be fondly remembered across the university, as well as her broader professional networks, for her comprehensive knowledge of all of the avenues and mechanisms available to us to support our students, her care for each individual student who connected to the ALC, the relationships that she established throughout our community, and her cultivation of a supportive and collegial team in Accessible Learning. Through her years of service, Gwen has made a tremendous and lasting contribution to the university.”
Page joined Laurier after a decade working with individuals with developmental disabilities and another decade in the mental health field. She held a variety of roles, including leading the 24/7 mobile mental health crisis team that worked closely with local hospitals and police; with the Association for Community Living, which supports individuals with disabilities in the community; Extend-A-Family and with the Canadian Mental Health Association. She earned both her bachelor’s degree in psychology (’85) and her master’s degree in community psychology (’88) from Laurier.
After learning how to grow vegetables this summer, Page is looking forward to improving her skills in the garden, as well as reading, spending quality time with her family, especially her young grandson, and relaxing.
Page’s last day at Laurier is Dec. 18.
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