Ball State has a new director of disability services.
Courtney Jarrett, who filled the role of associate director for 10 years prior, recently took over for former director Larry Markle who held the position for 13 years.
With the new position comes a new set of challenges for Jarrett, and one of the biggest is keeping up with an ever-changing student body. While Jarrett said Ball State is known as a very physically accessible campus for students with disabilities, one of the newer developments is the increasing number of students with psychological disabilities.
“The stigma is no longer there where people feel comfortable saying that they have a disability that’s maybe anxiety or depression or something like that, and so they realize that they can come over and use services,” Jarrett said. “While we’re known for being physically accessible, 90 percent of the students I work with have some sort of disability that’s non-apparent.”
With the many challenges that come with Jarrett and her associate director taking on the responsibility of accommodating students all over Ball State’s 1,140 acres, Jarrett said keeping in touch with other organizations on campus such as dining and housing is of the utmost importance.
“We have to have friends in housing, we have to have friends in dining, we have to have friends in facilities so when a door opener is broken, I’m not out there tinkering with a screwdriver because I was a history major, that’s not my skill set.”
Bringing in a new era means changes and new philosophies will be implemented under Jarrett, as subtle as they may be. One change Jarrett wants to introduce is increased use of electronic documents, which she said will allow for quicker access to student files rather than having to track down physical paperwork.
As associate director, Jarrett was responsible for hiring people like notetakers and sign language interpreters to assist students with disabilities. She’ll now transition into a more administrative role, working with grant funding, budgets and writing reports.
Although Jarrett hasn’t hired a full-time associate director yet, she is finalizing the hiring of an interim associate director. Ashley Schneider, Jarrett’s most recent graduate assistant, will step into the role. She was brought in because of her familiarity with everything the position entails.
“It’s really great because classes are going to be starting and everybody is going to need their services, and [Ashley] doesn’t need any training. She learned all of this last year, and she is going to be perfect to step in and handle that information,” Jarrett said.
With the hire giving Jarrett the time to get familiar with her new position, she said she’ll use the spring to do an official search and find a permanent associate director.
While she just took the position less than a month ago, Jarrett is no stranger to Ball State. She earned three degrees from the university and has worked on campus for a decade.
With the start of the semester coming quickly, she is excited to see students return and get settled in.
“It’s so quiet in the summer. It’s real strange because there are people on campus, but it’s always like conferences and things, so I always love ... when people are moving in and just really excited to be here,” Jarrett said. “I love when people are excited to be at Ball State because I’m excited to be here.”