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The Learning Commons

Student Accessibility Services: Behind the Scenes of the New Name – Jeremy Warnick Center for Student Accessibility

By Lisa Bauer, Associate Director, Student Accessibility Services




What is Student Accessibility Services?

The University is mandated by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to provide equal access to facilities, educational and co-curricular programs, campus activities and employment opportunities to qualified individuals with disabilities. SAS ensures that students with disabilities have physical and academic access to the educational experience here at the University by providing reasonable and appropriate accommodations. SAS believes that the most successful students are self-advocates who identify their own needs, take personal initiative in problem-solving and decision-making, and effectively use all available resources to fully participate in the educational experience.





SAS is now on the first floor of the Library. Where had it been before?

Since Fall 2002, SAS was housed in shared space in what was then known as the Center for Academic Development on the second floor of the Library.  SAS occupied space within the Tutoring Centers until its move to the 1st floor in August 2015. Our colleagues in the Tutoring Centers graciously shared their space and their time/support/concern with SAS students over the decade plus together.





How many students have used Student Accessibility Services and what is the main purpose of the service?   

Hundreds and hundreds of students have benefited from the services of SAS since the original office opened on campus back in the early 1990s.  The original name was Disability Support Services and in July 2011 the name was changed to Student Accessibility Services to best display its primary mission and philosophy.  With the emphasis on the Student first, then Accessibility and ending with identifying Service to display SAS as a strategy-based service model.  In a service model a student’s initial connection and ongoing interaction with SAS is self-propelled.  SAS supports approximately 10% of the total undergraduate population at the University.  The most commonly requested accommodations are: extended time for test-taking, testing in the SAS Testing Center, note-taking assistance and requests for alternate/electronic texts. Accommodations are not intended to guarantee success; they are intended to provide equal access to the educational experience so that students can display their level of learning. In the past two years the mid November total number of students new to SAS has reached 200 students.  In prior years the November totals have been in the 100-125 student range.  These higher numbers can be attributed to the fact that students are more comfortable with their diagnoses, they understand/accept their need for accommodations/support and they feel generally comfortable with the services of SAS, now in particular in its accessible and confidential location on the 1st floor.




Who was Jeremy Warnick – when did he attend RWU and what was his major?

Jeremy Warnick grew up in Easton, MA and arrived at the University as a transfer student in January 2005 to the Gabelli School of Business with all the hopes a student seeking a fresh with a new opportunity. His parents, Craig and Pam, were also hopeful that RWU would be a good match.  What a wonderful thing it was when Jeremy made quick connections to friends and soon felt like he was in a place to call home.  He immediately met with staff in Student Accessibility Services to help him with his academic accommodations and to acclimate to the Bristol campus — and maintained that connection throughout his time here. Sadly, Jeremy passed away suddenly in November, 2005.


Dr. and Mrs. Warnick have honored their son’s memory in two very distinct ways:

The Jeremy Warnick Memorial Scholarship

As a way to honor their son, the Warnick family provided significant funding for an annual scholarship named in memory of Jeremy.  There have been 13 recipients since 2007. Criteria for the scholarship offered each spring semester are as follows:



  • Are actively using Student Accessibility Services at the University for a specific learning, medical, psychiatric or physical disability
  • Display a documented need for financial support. (This scholarship is only applied to a student’s billing account and is not a cash award to be used for other purposes such as Study Abroad travel.)
  • Are in good academic standing and hold promise for the future.
  • Are enrolled in the Gabelli School of Business, whenever possible, however, SAS and the Warnick Family welcome applicants from outside of the Gabelli School to apply.


The annual scholarship, along with an annual visit by Dr. and Mrs. Warnick to campus each fall to visit the bench and be guests of the University for dinner, have all been bonding points to keep the family tethered to a place that Jeremy loved.  In July, 2015 when the Warnicks moved from Jeremy’s childhood home to be closer to their daughter and new grandchild, the family was seeking a location for Jeremy’s drum set and offered it to RWU.  SAS worked with the RWU Musician’s Guild and Professor Marilyn Mair to arrange for the donation of Jeremy’s drum set now being used by creative and spirited students like Jeremy.



Jeremy Warnick Center for Student Accessibility

The Warnick’s generosity continues a decade later and in a much broader way–their second generous gift to the University further illustrated their commitment to the students at RWU.  By naming the SAS Center in honor of Jeremy, the Warnicks recognize that the students utilizing SAS services, as Jeremy did, are smart, capable and dedicated.  But they also know that many students like Jeremy learn differently/creatively, have a challenge when learning new information, benefit from one/one support or by using technology to help bolster their comprehension of information.  The Center is now accessible on the first floor, has a large Testing Center and private study/testing rooms, and can provide new technology for a wide range of academic access.

At the October 24, 2015 SAS Center naming dedication President Farish shared thoughtful reflections about students who learn differently and how supports have allowed these students opportunities for success on so many level through SAS.  Additional remarks by VP John King and by the Reverend Nancy Soukup, as well as current 2015 recipient Sean Joyce, and alum Blair Victoria Dutra (2008 BA Psychology), Jeremy’s close friend in 2005; all served to bring high honor to a very special dedication.  A plaque noting the names of all past recipients of Jeremy’s scholarship was unveiled at the dedication. A second bronzed plaque will soon tell Jeremy’s story with an etching of his image.


Meet the Learning Commons Staff: Morgan Cottrell



Interview with Ms. Morgan Cottrell

by Alexis den Boggende, Connections Intern


Q: What is your favorite part about working with Roger Williams students?

A: Seeing their potential, and having a bit of a hand in helping them understand what their potential is–helping them realize how Roger Williams is going to help them achieve that potential. My most satisfying moments here, by far, are those when I can bring a student from a place of stress, anxiety or fear, or some negative emotion, and watch them leave my office feeling relieved. I like seeing them realize that they have options that they perhaps didn’t think they had before. I love seeing them hopeful about the future and new opportunities.



Q: If someone asked what Student Advising and Advocacy is all about, what would you tell them?

A: Our main focus is to help students who are facing some type of challenge. We have programs to help students who are facing challenges–which a lot of times includes new students. We realize that the transition from high school to college is very challenging, so one of our biggest programs is the peer mentor program. In that program, each new student gets a peer mentor. We also have programs for students who are undeclared. We make sure, in addition to our faculty advisors, we are meeting with them to check in on their options. We have various outreach to all students throughout the semester, including students who may have warning grades, haven’t registered for classes, and students whose faculty are reporting that they aren’t going to class. We just want to help.


Q: What advice would you give to students, especially incoming freshmen and transfers?

A: Make connections. That is the number one priority. Make strong, positive connections, and realize where their resources are, whether it be an Orientation Advisor, their Peer Mentor, or their faculty members. Let people know what their goals are. Let people know what they’re excited about.


Q: What’s a typical day like in the Advising and Advocacy office?

A: There’s no typical day! It’s always a different day. Everyday I’m learning something new–that’s what makes this job so much fun, and what makes this office so much fun. The Peer Mentors are always in the office during their office hours, and the nature of the appointments we have throughout the year change. A couple of weeks from now, our main focus is going to be recruitment for Peer Mentors. Applications to become a Peer Mentor are available now in our office, and the deadline is February 15.


Q: What inspired you to go into working in advising and advocacy?

A: I am a first generation college student, myself. I never really knew the significance of that while I was in college. I didn’t realize it until my junior and senior year. I had a great college experience, but I did the FASFA by myself, and I moved myself onto campus. Whenever I faced a challenge on campus, I always figured it out on my own. Some of my friends, who were also first generation college students, struggled. They didn’t know who to turn to or go to if something went wrong. I felt lucky that I knew what I had to do. It helped a lot. I’ve always been somebody who just wants to help. I know that higher education is the ticket and the key to help a person succeed, and I know first generation college students do face their struggles along the way. I want people to be treated in an equitable way and given the right opportunities. I feel like higher education will open you up to great opportunities in life. I wanted to be in a position where I could help, where students really needed me.


Q: What is your favorite book?

A: The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. It’s all about how to live your life–it’s about love and relationships. It’s very simple and I find that no matter where I am in life, I find pieces of that book that my life relates to.


Q: Who is your favorite author? Have you read anything else by this person?

A: Sheryl Sandberg, who wrote Lean In. She writes about how women are treated in the workplace and how they have to reach the same potential as men. It talks about how, as a woman, you can become a role model for other women as well as taking care of yourself. But really, my favorite author kind of depends on the latest book I’ve read and liked.


Q: What book do you think everybody should read at least once?

A: Definitely The Prophet.


Q: In your free time, what are some things you like to do for fun?

A: I always joke that I’m such a nerd! I love it. Right now, me, my partner, his fourteen-year-old son and I like playing these complicated board games. Carcassonne is one of them, as well as Stone Age and Agricola. They’re really complicated and they take over the whole table, and you’ve got to play the game several times in order to truly understand it. I also love binge-watching Netflix.


Meet the Learning Commons: Bob Shea, Associate Provost for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning


Bob Shea, Associate Provost for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning


Interviewed by Lindsey Gumb, Instructional Technology Librarian


  1. You’ve worked at several other academic institutions before arriving here. What drew you to RWU?

A couple of things really drew me to RWU. First of all, it was very clear to me from the moment I read the job description that someone gave a lot of thought to the creation of this position of Associate Provost for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, and that was exciting.   Another very important draw for me was that I noticed RWU’s values aligned very closely with my own, specifically with regard to engaged teaching and learning.


  1. What is your long-term goal for Center for Student Academic Success?

My long-term goal for the Center for Student Academic Success has two main strands. The first is to develop an integrated student support hub, which is more than just one-stop shopping of services. I see CSAS as being aligned with the Center for Teaching and Learning to provide support for faculty development so that our faculty can best advise our students.   The second is the need to establish an outcomes-based, developmental approach to student success.


  1. The breadth of your position is challenging. What area(s) seems to be demanding the most attention?

 I don’t think there’s an easy answer to this! Every area that I oversee requires a lot of my attention. I think that with all of the areas, there is work to be done building systems for digitizing and simplifying processes, as well as building a culture that focuses heavily on learning outcomes and student success.


  1. What is your vision for both a physical and virtual Center for Teaching and Learning?

I see the Center for Teaching and Learning as having the primary role of making time and space available for faculty to meet and talk to each other about their own teaching and student learning. There isn’t a space like this currently on campus, and its development is high on my priority list. The physical center will reside on the 2nd floor of the library, but it is still to be determined how big or what the space will look like. A virtual center is also under development in the form of a Bridges site.


  1. What role do you see the library playing when it comes to experiential learning and the Center for Teaching and Learning? Can you provide some examples of your interactions with librarians in your previous positions?

 At every institution before arriving at RWU, I’ve always worked very closely with the library and librarians. At Pine Manor College, I revised the First-Year Experience Program that, in part, focused on the development of information literacy skills. At the University of Rhode Island, I worked with librarians on assessing information literacy skills, as well as on broader program assessment efforts. I made the deepest connections while at Bryant University, where I team-taught a course, Citizenship in a Digital Age, with Jenifer Bond, Associate Director of the library. This class focused a lot on helping students to develop strong information literacy skills, and I learned so much from working with Jenifer.


  1. Outside of RWU, what hobbies or activities do you enjoy?

 I really enjoy traveling! When I was at Bryant University I oversaw the Study Abroad program, and I was lucky enough to also find myself chaperoning several international trips, including to Spain, Germany and South Africa.

Meet the Learning Commons Staff: Interview with Megan Lessard

Interviewed by Heidi Benedict, University Archivist on Monday, April 20, 2015


Megan Lessard joined the library staff as the Digital Imaging Technologist in April, 2014. When the Visual Resources Center was absorbed into the University Library, Megan moved from the Architecture Library, and in March, 2015 was promoted to Web and Digital Services Specialist. In her new position, Megan supports both the Archives and Web and Digital Services with photography, digitization, metadata, and a variety of associated responsibilities.


Tell us about the first time you used a camera (or the first photo you ever took).


I grew up around cameras. My grandfather used to be a professional photographer and my dad would shoot for him too. I remember taking a photograph of my cat with my dad’s Pentax K1000 manual SLR. I had a roll of black and white film and was just shooting things around my house.Daisy_002


I started doing a lot of camera work in high school, and once I got going you couldn’t pry the camera away from me. I even got a darkroom for my 14th birthday! I shot for the yearbook and was editor in chief in my senior year.


What drew you to RWU?

It’s hard to find a position that you’re both excited about and that you think you can do all that they ask, but that was the case when I read the job announcement for this position.


What are some of the unique aspects of your job?


I get to work with a wide range of material, from documents to books to slides. I’ve scanned over 1,000 slides of commencement ceremonies from 1988 to 1999. It feels good that we can preserve the memories and history of such an honored tradition at the University.

I work on a lot of different special projects, such as helping to design the Birss website and the library blog, Connections.



You do lots of scanning and photography for the University, what is your favorite thing that you digitized for the University since coming here?


The Archivist, Heidi Benedict, asked me to digitize a 150-year-old letter. Unfortunately someone along the way had used tape to repair it. Using Photoshop and a Wacom tablet, I cleaned-up the digital copy for a library exhibition about local history that complimented the national traveling Lincoln exhibit.


 What do you think the future holds for photographers, amateurs and professionals?


The art and craft of photography is becoming diminished with the popularization of iPhone/android photography. There’s no such thing as a bad photo anymore. Before digital cameras, photography was a very expensive hobby, between purchasing the film and printing the photos. Now everyone has an iPhone/android camera app or digital SLR. Now no one’s printing; photos live on Facebook, Instagram, etc. It’s a transitional time and it’s exciting to see where photography will go from here.


Who is your favorite photographer?


 Jerry Uelsmann made me think about photography as a career. He did a lot with manipulating his photographs in the darkroom, cutting out… Today we do similar things, and with greater speed and ease, using Photoshop.

I saw an exhibit of his work at a local coffee shop in my hometown while I was in high school. He also went to the college that I eventually ended up attending for photography. Mr Uelsmann got his B.F.A. degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1957; I received my B.F.A in 2004.


 What are you reading right now?


I’m reading a work about the theft of 13 art pieces from the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum in 1990, The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World’s Largest Unsolved Art Theft by Ulrich Boser. I had an opportunity to visit the museum a few months ago and the theft of the artwork has captivated my attention. I’m also reading a piece of fiction, The Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness.


Aside from photography, do you have any hobbies or special interests?


Outside work, I enjoy kickboxing. I go to classes 3 times a week in Cranston. It’s a super fun workout that I really enjoy.

I have a collection of over 100 succulents. My favorite is the fan aloe. Right now mine is still small and it hasn’t flowered yet.

Here is a photo of some of my collection – The Fan Aloe is pictured on the table.


I also have a “collection” of animals – I have a nine-year-old Corgi named Sky and also six turtles that I found when they had just hatched out of the ground at my brother’s house. I’ve always owned exotic pets, when I was younger I had a leopard gecko named Chester and an African pygmy hedgehog named Zeus.


What is Tutorial Support Services?

by Karen Bilotti, Associate Director, Tutorial Support Services & Coordinator, Writing Support Services


Tutorial Support Services (TSS), located on the second floor of the Library, is part of the Center for Student Academic Success. TSS provides curriculum-based assistance 56 hours per week for students through the Math Center, Writing Center, and Science Tutoring Center. All of the services provided by TSS are free to RWU students. Peer tutoring is available in all of the centers and faculty tutoring is available in the Math and Writing Centers. In addition to in-center tutoring, the centers offer a variety of programming, including the Math Center’s Tutor in the Classroom program which places a team of tutors in every Math section up through Differential Equations. The tutors attend class and are available as informed resources in the Math Center for students to come in for help. The tutors also conduct review sessions before tests. In addition, the Science Center sponsors the Peer Led Team Learning (PLTL) sessions for Chemistry; the Chemistry faculty work closely with the tutors and Science Tutoring Coordinator to implement weekly workshops tied to the Chemistry curriculum. Finally, the Writing Fellows program matches writing tutors (known as Fellows) with students in participating courses for the duration of the semester to assist with assignments. Please drop in to TSS to learn more about all of the centers’ programs and how we might be able to help you with any math-, writing-, or science-related assignment!





Learning Commons – Continuing Progress

By Peter Deekle, Dean of University Library Services

Each year has brought further advancements in the design, construction, and use of space in the University Library. The Summer of 2015 is no exception.  With the help of consultants from Boston’s  ICON Architecture, Inc., we have embarked on the latest development phase.  During the summer months, Student Accessibility Services will be relocated to a newly-designed site on the first floor where the former Library Instruction Lab (formerly, the 24-hour Study Room) was placed.  Also, thanks to generous donors and a grant from Rhode Island’s Champlin Foundations, we will completely redesign the Mary Tefft White Cultural Center.  That outcome will provide an expanded and flexible-use Instant Theater in which small collaborative groups or large-scale presentations can occur throughout the day and evening.  We anticipate that both of these summer projects will be completed in time for the beginning of our Fall 2015 semester.


Meet the Learning Commons Staff: Interview with Shawn Platt

Interviewed by: Linda L. Beith, Ph.D., Director, Instructional Design





Shawn, how long have you been at Roger Williams University?

I am an alumnus of Roger Williams University, Class of 1986. After a couple of years working for a defense contractor after graduation I had the opportunity to come back to RWU to work and have been here ever since.


Could you tell us a little about your background?

I have B.S. degree with a double major in Electrical Engineering Technology and Computer Engineering with a Math minor. I have always liked working with technology and have grown with the industry over the years. I spent 20 years involved with information technology at RWU primarily focused on support of academic computing involving labs and academic software. When the new Department of Instructional Design was formed in 2009 and instructional computing was reorganized under the Provost in Academic Affairs I moved to this group since it was a perfect fit for my skills and interest.


What do you like best about your job?

I really like helping faculty and students with their technologies. My current job as an instructional technologist also involves a lot of troubleshooting and problem solving which I really enjoy. I like figuring out how things work.

As an alumnus and employee I also feel very connected to the University and for that reason I serve on the Campus Campaign. I’m very proud of the progress the campaign has made and the generosity of so many employees.


What are the biggest changes you’ve seen at RWU?

One of the biggest changes is the growth of the school. I graduated from Roger Williams College with a student body of 1800. It was a small school where everyone knew each other – especially all the faculty and staff. Then RWU grew into a University and became a much bigger place.

Keep in mind that I was here before Roger Williams even had access to the Internet – initially we went through a 56KB connection through Brown University/Nearnet. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that the Law School opened and Academic Computing and Management Information Systems were consolidated into the Department of Information Technology. It was also around this time that the University started to deploy PC desktops to staff and faculty. I have held many different positions in IT. For many years I was in charge of all the academic labs and managed the printing and academic software for the University and employed up to 40-50 work-study students at a time. I was even the email administrator at one point and installed and managed the first desktop email system in the Law School. It’s incredible that today everything that was managed by a large Data General system can now be done on a smart phone.


What do you like to do for fun?

Shawn’s answer (as of this morning) would be: My favorite things to do are riding my motorcycle, spending time with my teen-age nieces and vacationing in Florida.


What is Instructional Design?



The Department of Instructional Design is a member of the Learning Commons. The team provides instruction, support and trouble-shooting for all enterprise-level instructional technologies (for example Bridges learning management system, Panopto Focus video capture, Turnitin anti-plagiarism, etc.). Instructional design consultation is available for faculty who are interested in transitioning a traditional on-campus course to a fully online or hybrid model or even just to brainstorm the use of technology tools and strategies as a supplement to enhance learning.

The ID team includes Linda Beith and Kevin O’Rourke who are instructional designers, as well as Shawn Platt who is an instructional technologist.


Please explore just-in-time tutorials for all supported academic software on the Instructional Design website at: http://library.rwu.edu/lib/learning-commons/id/tutorials or contact the team by sending email to id@rwu.edu or phoning 401-254-3187. Follow ID on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/rwuid) or Twitter (https://twitter.com/rwu_id)



Meet the Learning Commons staff: Interview with Michael Micale

Interviewed by: Betsy Peck Learned, Associate Dean, University Library


Introduction: Michael Micale was hired in September as the Technology Services Leader to oversee the staff and operations of the new media·tech desk in the University Library.


Q: Mike, what brought you to Rhode Island and to RWU?


A: I came to Rhode Island with my wife, Raquel, when she was hired as the Assistant Dean for the Law School Library here at RWU. I loved the smaller environment and the beautiful campus. I came from Boston University and was excited to work at a school this size, where I could contribute more easily and have more influence.


Q: You have had several positions working with technology in academic institutions. What about this position is different?


A: This job actually builds upon various aspects of my work history. I started my career as an accountant (with an undergraduate degree in business) and had the opportunity to work on technical projects due to my strong interest and the continual automation of bank processes. I felt that technology was more creative than finance, which led me to get certified in several areas of technology. I then started teaching technology certification classes, began working in IT in corporations (such as Bank of America and Fidelity Investments), then became the Audiovisual Manager at Boston University, eventually becoming the Manager of the integrated IT and AV functions at the Law school. There I managed the public computing labs and various technology-related functions. At Roger Williams, I get the chance to manage the help desk for the entire university instead of just one school and to be part of the integrated Learning Commons.


Q: How do you think the new media·tech desk is working out? Do you think the students are happy with this new service overall?


A: The new media·tech desk is excellent, and there is a high level of user satisfaction. We are using new ways of reaching out to our students such as laptop repair. Students especially seem to appreciate the longer hours that help is available and the walk-up service in the library. We are also reviewing best practices for help desk procedures and working to implement ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) principles.


Q: What new technologies excite you?   Are there new technology services that you can see coming down the road?


A: Help desk technology is really exciting now. While at B.U. we virtualized the labs (similar to the rCLoud here) and students there are completely trusting it now. Cybersecurity is becoming more and more important as networks become ubiquitous and security issues more frequent and complex. Due to the rising importance of cybersecurity, I entered a cybersecurity contest that was sponsored by the government and won an award.


 Q: Tell us one thing about yourself that we might not guess about you.


A: I am a lot more approachable that I seem. I can appear to be impersonal but I love people and love working in libraries. I am a lifelong learner and read a lot both for pleasure and work.


 Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?


A: I like spending time with my wife and son. I love international travel and learning languages. I used to play sports but now watch more than participate. I love to learn new technologies and often cross-pollinate what I learn with my wife, who shares this interest.


What is media∙tech?



The media∙tech service desk in the Learning Commons offers one-stop technology support for students, staff and faculty.   Open 120 hours a week during the academic year, media∙tech is staffed with a combination of full-time and part-time IT staff, along with student assistants, led by Technology Services Leader Michael Micale.



Visit the media∙tech desk to ask a technical question, report a problem, or drop off your laptop for out-of-warranty repair. Need to borrow a laptop or Samsung tablet? Both are available at media∙tech for loan using your library barcode. Want to incorporate video, images or sound into your work? media∙tech has video cameras, still cameras and audio recorders. Laptop chargers, Apple adapters and other accessories are also available.

media∙tech services are also available by phone (401-254-6363), email (mediatech@rwu.edu) or on the web (http://mediatech.rwu.edu).