Dec. 19, 2018

Vice-provost recognized for working to create a more inclusive campus

Susan Barker receives Accessibility Award from City of Calgary
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi  presents the award to the University of Calgary's Susan Barker. Photo courtesy City of Calgary

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi presents the award to the University of Calgary's Susan Barker.

City of Calgary

Dr. Susan Barker, the University of Calgary’s vice-provost (student experience), received the City of Calgary’s 2018 Accessibility Award for Advocacy.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi presented Accessibility Awards to Dr. Barker and two other recipients at city hall on Dec. 17. 

“Today, we recognized the award recipients for their exceptional qualities and actions in supporting people with disabilities,” said Mayor Nenshi. “Each award recipient is doing vital work to ensure that Calgary is inclusive for all.”

As a strong advocate for Inclusive Post-Secondary Education (IPSE) at UCalgary, Dr. Barker has worked to create opportunities for students with developmental disabilities to have an authentic university experience. Students in the IPSE program attend classes with other students, join clubs and take part in campus life. Upon finishing the program, they cross the convocation stage with their graduating peers and are awarded certificates of completion.

The students who take part in the IPSE program are happy to share their positive experiences at UCalgary. Brett Garth, a student who completed the program this past year, described the University of Calgary as “the greatest school.” “I love going to class and being on campus,” he added. Garth crossed the stage at this year’s June convocation — which was the first time that IPSE students received a hood as part of their academic regalia, something Dr. Barker made a point of including after one student said that not receiving a hood like other students made her feel left out.

A student who joined the program this year, Quinn McSwiney, also enjoys sharing about his experience at UCalgary; he recently gave a presentation to promote the IPSE program. “Dr. Barker is a great supporter of the Inclusive Post-Secondary Education program here on the University of Calgary campus,” he said.

“I think the best thing about Dr. Barker is her generosity,” said Rhonda Frizzell, director of the Integrated Post-Secondary Education Society of Alberta. “Whether it's introducing our students and staff to important resources on campus or being a catalyst for building relationships — she’s always so thoughtful. I think that’s such a paramount part of building accessible communities.” 

The Accessibility Award for Advocacy is one of three the city hands out every year to individuals or organizations that work toward making Calgary a more accessible place. The other two categories are the Access Recognition Award, which was awarded to West Campus Development Trust’s Northwest Commons Park, and the Transportation Opportunities Award, which went to Brooke Garcia, owner of 4 Seasons Transportation, for providing barrier-free transportation to children.

IPSE has been operating since 1992 and is run by the Integrated Post-Secondary Education Society of Alberta. The Government of Alberta funds the program.