Vanderbilt Kennedy Center UCEDD co-director Elise McMillan, J.D., presented information on Tennessee’s Inclusive Higher Education Alliance to representatives from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) during the 2017 HBCU Summit on Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities, November 14.
McMillan, who also serves as director of Community Engagement and Public Policy and senior lecturer in Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, co-presented “Developing State Alliances to Speak as One Voice” alongside Susanna Miller-Raines, statewide coordinator of the Georgia Inclusive Postsecondary Education Consortium (GAIPSEC), Center for Leadership in Disability, Georgia State University.
The HBCU Summit was hosted by Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, Alabama, and led by the University of Memphis TigerLIFE and the University of Memphis Institute on Disability (UMID).
“It was an honor to be able to present alongside Susanna and share the progress our Tennessee Alliance has made since its inception in 2007,” said McMillan. “We are so proud of the changes our own program, Next Steps at Vanderbilt, has seen in just a few years, growing from a 2-year to a 4-year program and seeing increased postsecondary financial aid opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities through state legislation like the STEP UP Scholarship. Nothing would please us more than to see similar programs form and flourish similarly at Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the Southeast. The University of Memphis is leading this effort.”
The mission of the Tennessee Inclusive Higher Education Alliance is to increase postsecondary education opportunities for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities on 2- and 4-year college campuses and at Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology. The Alliance is made up of more than 20 state and local agencies, self-advocates and family members, representatives of Tennessee colleges and universities, employers, and representatives from each of Tennessee’s inclusive higher education programs.
Organizations involved in the Alliance include Tennessee’s Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services; Department of Education; Division of Vocational Rehabilitation; Tennessee Higher Education Commission; TennCare, Tennessee’s Medicaid agency; and the Tennessee Developmental Disabilities Network – the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities, Disability Rights Tennessee, the University of Tennessee Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities in Memphis and the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center.
The Alliance will be working closely with Vanderbilt University to host the third annual Inclusive Southeastern Postsecondary Education Conference and Capacity Building Institute June 26-27, 2017, on the Vanderbilt University campus. Following in the footsteps of two informative conferences hosted by Georgia State University in Atlanta, the Conference brings together leaders in the field of inclusive higher education from across the region to share best practices in all aspects of college for students with intellectual disabilities.
Elizabeth Turner is program coordinator for VKC Communications.