On Monday, Dean of the College Sarah Bolton welcomed G.L. Mazard Wallace to the College as the new director of accessible education. Wallace is replacing Joyce Foster, who retired in December.
As the director of accessible education, Wallace will ensure that students with documented disabilities receive accommodations and work to raise awareness for issues related to disability and access on campus.
“[Dr. Wallace] brings deep experience in this work, which he has done both inside and outside the academy, including in his recent roles as professor of sociology in behavioral sciences and creator of the disability studies minor at Fitchburg State College,” Bolton said in her campus-wide message. Wallace has over 20 years of experience working on disability-related issues.
Wallace hopes to spark campus-wide discourse related to the experiences of students with disabilities. “My role involves working within the current student support structure to address student needs in a more comprehensive, holistic manner,” Wallace said. “It also involves taking the lead in the advancement of a larger, campus-wide discourse on issues of disability, access and opportunity.”
According to Wallace, the College plans to expand education for and awareness of disabilities students face. “We may have done and may do an excellent job of providing accommodations to our students, but the real challenge we are committing ourselves to involves providing ongoing education on disability issues and challenging the stigma that exists for some in accessing the tools they need to be successful,” Wallace said. “The mission of this office is to work in concert with others to provide a diversity of options for our students to thrive here at Williams and beyond.”
Wallace is excited for the opportunities at the College. “I am most excited to work with my colleagues to serve the students here,” said Wallace. “The Williams student is an impressive person with great potential. Every person I have had the pleasure to meet understands the responsibility inherent in the stewardship of that potential,” Wallace said.
When asked about the greatest challenge he will face, Wallace said, “My biggest challenge is my biggest opportunity: to have a hand in shaping the campus discourse around issues of access and opportunity.”
Wallace received his doctorate in anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, where he worked with deaf populations in the United States and England. He was also a Mellon Fellow at Brandeis. After leaving Brandeis, Wallace worked as a professor in the behavioral sciences department at Fitchburg State. He also serves on one of the human rights committees for the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services, reviewing housing, medical and quality of life issues for people with developmental disabilities.