Ruthann Daniel-Harteis assumed the role of director of Student Accessibility and Support Services (SASS) on Jan. 3. Daniel-Harteis took over the role from Erin Salva ’79, who retired in November.
According to Dean for Academic Advising and Support Thomas Hawks, the search committee for the new SASS Director formed in August and comprised representatives from the faculty, SASS, the Office for Civil Rights and Dean of Student Development Robin Hart Ruthenbeck. The search committee posted hiring notices in multiple venues, including the Chronicle for Higher Education and the Association on Higher Education and Disability, as well as social networks like the Disability Studies in the Humanities listserv and the International Network of Women with Disabilities Facebook group.
Among the search, two finalist candidates visited campus in November to meet with students, faculty and representatives from the Cox Health and Counseling Center, Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Office for Civil Rights, SASS and the Office of the Provost. The search committee offered the directorship to Ruthann Daniel-Harteis at the end of November.
An Ohio native, Daniel-Harteis holds a bachelors in art therapy from Bowling Green State University and a master of science degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from California State University, Fresno.
Before joining Kenyon, Daniel-Harteis was the director of disability support services for the Bluegrass Community and Technical College in Lexington, Ky. Prior to that, she was the associate director of disability support services at the New College of Florida. In addition, Daniel-Harteis worked in the disability support services office for the California State University system at Sonoma State University and California State University Monterey Bay.
Under Daniel-Harteis, SASS will remain focused on providing accommodations to students for the current semester, as well as asking them to plan for the upcoming academic year. She also said that SASS is planning a series of events for the campus community that will answer student questions and concerns regarding accommodations, and inform more about commonly used accommodations provided to students.
“These opportunities may look like virtual ‘office hours’ or brown bag conversations depending on where we are with covid,” Daniel-Harteis wrote in an email to the Collegian. “I am also currently seeking out conversations and connections with campus partners looking for ways to collaborate across campus with the goal to continue working toward a truly Inclusive and Accessible Kenyon.”
According to Hawks, SASS registrations have more than doubled in the past five years. He looks forward to expanding student access to SASS services and to working with Daniel-Harteis.
“I’m excited to work with Ruthann to find ways for SASS to continue to increase access and equity for Kenyon students,” Hawks wrote in an email to the Collegian.
Hawks also noted that SASS will continue previous efforts by Salva to provide students with accommodations, including the identification of ADHD testing options for students who had not taken a test before arriving at Kenyon or who lacked the resources to pay for such testing.
“I know Ruthann is enthusiastic about working with faculty to assist them in implementing course design elements like Universal Design for Learning that will help faculty meet the diverse learning needs of all Kenyon students,” Hawks said.
Daniel-Harteis looks forward to helping make Kenyon more accessible, a goal that she believes requires constant attention and care.
“So much good work has already been done toward this goal — and yet I think ‘accessibility’ is always a work in progress,” Daniel-Harteis said. “It is really hard for me to imagine that we will ever reach a point where we will be able to say we are completely finished with making things accessible. I am looking forward to connecting with people and experiences here at Kenyon.”