With heavy hearts, we inform the IAGD community of the passing of Mr. Jeff Vernooy, longtime Director of the Office of Disability Services at Wright State University.  Among the many successes in advocating for access and inclusion at WSU, Jeff was instrumental in the early advisory committee of the National Advisory for Geoscience Diversity (NAGD) in 2008, that led to the formation of the International Association of Geoscience Diversity (IAGD).  He was also directly involved in the accessible cave project at Ohio State University, which took six students with mobility impairments into Mammoth Cave National Park.  The attached pictures document his trip into the cave, as he wanted the students to see that if he was able to go into the cave, they would be encouraged to participate in the project as well.  Not only will we will miss his input and mentoring, but we will ultimately miss his passion for full access and inclusion for students with disabilities across all STEM disciplines.

From the WSU Newsroom article:
Jeffrey Vernooy, who tirelessly advocated for students with disabilities and was the architect of the campus support structure for them as longtime director of the Wright State University Office of Disability Services, passed away at Hospice of Dayton on Aug. 19. He was 61.

Funeral  services are Friday, Aug. 23, at the Kindred Funeral Home in Englewood, Ohio. Donations may be made to the Wright State Foundation to support a scholarship in Vernooy’s name.

Vernooy worked in the Office of Disability Services in various positions since 1977.

“During the 23 years I have known Jeff, he has been a friend and advocate to all people regardless of race, ethnicity, ability or sexual orientation,” said Katherine Myers, interim director of the Office of Disability Services. “He will be deeply missed.”

Vernooy was instrumental in enhancing diversity at Wright State.

He organized and led a 23-member campus-wide committee on diversity, marketing and supporting the Dayton Dialogue on Race and Ethnicity. He also co-facilitated a group of faculty that developed, supported and initiated a change in the curriculum to include an area of multicultural competency.

In addition, Vernooy was active in civil rights in the greater Dayton community.

He was a member of the Montgomery County Task Force for Special Populations, chair of the board of directors of the Dayton Foundation Disability Trust Fund, member of the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Minority Advisory Committee and member of the Southwestern Ohio Consortium on Higher Education’s Diversity Subcommittee.

Vernooy was also a recipient of the Kim Goldenberg Quest for Community Award, the Wright Choice Inc. “Visionary Award” and the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base “Disability Awareness Award,” and was an inductee into the Developmental Disabilities Hall of Fame for Outstanding Service to the Community.

For the full article, please visit the WSU Newsroom.

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Disclaimer: This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0939645. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


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