Shipley awarded for inclusive excellence

Isabella Parish

Shipley accepting The Leadership Award for Inclusive Excellence from President Nugent.
Photo: Illinois Wesleyan University

Chandra Shipley wears many different hats at IWU including Director of Student Accessibility Services and Director of Academic Advising. 

In the latter position, she serves as a resource to academic advisors and students on the topics of advising and registration. “When academic advising, I work with students developmentally and reflectively. I also work with students on creating four year plans to ensure a holistic college experience,” Shipley said. 

Shipley originally went to college with plans of being a teacher. When she arrived she ended up getting her undergraduate degree in business with a minor in sociology. Shipley still wanted to be involved in education so she completed her Master’s Degree in College Student Personnel Administration  where she focused on advising. 

After a year working in advising at IWU, she took on the position in the Office of Accessibility Services. 

“I have always been passionate about making sure students have a welcoming environment,” Shipley said. When Shipley first took on the role she did a magnitude of research and reading on her own to educate herself.

As the Director of Accessibility Services Shipley collaborates with students to ensure they receive all the accommodations they are eligible for under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The research she did ensured that she could understand what students would need and how she could help. One of her many tactics is asking questions. She asks how the university and herself can be there to help and support the student. 

Over Shipley’s last 10 years here at IWU, the percentage of students registered with the Office of Accessibility Services at IWU  has increased from almost two percent to approximately 10 percent. The number of students is one of the many changes Shipley has seen within her position. “I think our faculty and staff have responded very well in providing students with accommodations that they need. They want to make sure their class is as inclusive as possible,” Shipley said. 

Shipley believes that, in the past, disability or accommodations were commonly tied to only visible disabilities. The number of students with invisible disabilities is growing as well. An example of one of the largest invisible disabilities is mental health. Many students also do not realize that medical and mental health conditions may make them eligible for accommodations.

“I talk to a lot of students who do not realize they are eligible for accomodations,” Shipley said. Accommodations can truly help a student be much more successful during their college years in all aspects. Shipley is always happy to talk with students about possible accommodations even if they are not put into place. 

Shipley said that the most rewarding part of her job is working with students and seeing all of their growth. Since she has been at IWU, she has been able to watch many students go from first-years to graduates. 

The Office of Accessibility Services’s recent name change is another improvement that Shipley played a part in. “A main reason for the name change is that the word disability may come with stigma and have negative connotations. We want to focus on students’ assets and their abilities,” Shipley said. 

Shipley was one of two recipients this year for The Leadership Award for Inclusive Excellence. The other recipient was Maggie Evans who serves as an Assistant Professor of Educational Studies. The award is given to a faculty and staff member every year and the purpose of the award is to showcase the important work of advocacy within education and the IWU community.  

She was completely shocked that she won this award as well as so honored. Shipley even called this one of the  highlights of her career. “I watched the video announcement and hearing what the students and parents said about me was so touching,” Shipley said. 

To learn more about the Office of Accessibility Services you can visit their website. Within the website is information about eligibility for accommodations and Shipley’s contact information.