Joanna Norris, Associate Director
Department of Public Relations
The University of North Florida’s College of Education and Human Services, in collaboration with the Division of Student Affairs, held a groundbreaking ceremony today for a new addition that will house four University units, including the Disability Resource Center (DRC), Military and Veterans Resource Center (MVRC), On Campus Transition (OCT) Program and the Institute for Values, Community and Leadership.
UNF celebrated the addition of the new two-story facility with a ceremony at 11 a.m. inside the College of Education and Human Services Building, located on the west side of the core of campus next to the Thomas G. Carpenter Library.
The structure will comprise nearly 16,000 gross square feet and will cost approximately $5.6 million to construct and will be located contiguous with the southwest corner of the College of Education and Human Services Building.
“The University is especially grateful to Sen. John Thrasher for his leadership in securing the funding from the state to construct this facility that will house four of our programs,” said UNF President John Delaney. “I’m so proud that UNF is a compassionate campus, one that gives our students the resources they need to be successful.”
The Disability Resource Center will be housed on the first floor, which will be 8,234 gross square feet and will include a state-of-the-art assistive technology lab, library, testing facilities and staff offices. The DRC began offering services in 1990, currently serving 980 UNF students with diagnosed disabilities, ranging from learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD and physical or medical disabilities to psychological/emotional disabilities, blindness/deafness and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The DRC serves students with disabilities by offering accommodations such as extended time on exams, isolation for exams, note-takers and Assistive Technology, priority registration, e-books and recorded texts, interpreters and other need-based services. The DRC works with students to help them realize that dealing with a disability doesn’t define them but rather is a piece of their whole being.
The proximity of the DRC and OCT departments to the students and faculty in the existing College of Education and Human Services Building will allow UNF education students to participate and engage in learning strategies, peer collaboration and research opportunities.
The second floor of the structure, which will be 7,757 gross square feet, will be home to the On Campus Transition Program, Military and Veterans Resource Center as well as the Institute for Values, Community and Leadership. The space will include administrative offices, counseling rooms, a small reference library and group activity rooms.
The OCT Program, among only eight programs of its kind around the state, began in the fall of 2006 and currently serves 25 students with intellectual disabilities. The program is a complete partnership with The Arc Jacksonville, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people with development/intellectual disabilities become physically, mentally, socially and economically independent. UNF’s OCT students can remain in the program for a maximum of four years, selecting two-year or four-year tracks that mirror options provided to most college students.
This program enables OCT students to learn and work alongside their same-age peers, to audit UNF courses, to be integrated and included in a diverse community, to live in integrated settings with other college students, while learning how to become productive, independent and contributing members of society, which wouldn’t be possible if this program didn’t exist. Due to the success of UNF’s program and recognition in the state as a model program, the OCT Program is part of a federal grant that provides technical assistance to start-up and existing programs in the state.
The University, named a “Military Friendly School” for 2011 and 2010 by
G.I. Jobs magazine,
began offering support services and programs to the military student population in November 2009 and opened the MVRC in August of last year. The Center assists UNF veteran and active military students with the often overwhelming admission, enrollment and financial aid processes, providing a supportive environment for this student population to achieve academic and life success. With 220,000 military veterans residing in Jacksonville, the MVRC serves approximately 890 active duty, veteran and ROTC students. The majority of these students—more than 650—are veterans certified to receive G.I. Bill Education benefits for the spring term at UNF.
Last January, the University received a nearly $218,000 gift from the Florida Braive Fund at The Community Foundation in Jacksonville, allowing UNF, in partnership with the city of Jacksonville’s Military Affairs, Veterans and Disability Services, the Jacksonville Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic, Naval Hospital Jacksonville and The Wounded Warrior Project, to collaborate in delivering a personal approach to veteran support.
The Institute for Values, Community and Leadership, which was established with a new focus a year ago, gives graduates in today’s competitive job market a way to set themselves apart from their peers, helping them to get noticed by potential employers or graduate schools. That extra edge or “add-on dimension” at UNF is the Leadership Certificate. Currently, there are 400 students enrolled in the Leadership Certificate Program.
The Institute addresses the very real need of empowering future leaders to take their place in the world with the knowledge, skill set and leadership vernacular and repertoire to hit the ground running as leaders. A portrait of a graduating leader is one who masters building team processes, comfortably and proactively runs meetings with vision, speaks publicly with confidence, proactively facilitates group dynamics, thinks globally and acts ethically, appreciating the paramount role of making a difference in the world.
The College of Education and Human Services addition will follow UNF’s other new buildings on campus as a “green” building, meaning it uses energy-saving measures, recycled materials and natural light to improve the work environment. Baker Barrios Architects in Orlando designed the facility and PPI is the construction management firm for the project, which is estimated to be completed around January 2012.
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