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Academics and Programs

NC State College of Education to House the Educational Opportunities Program for Individuals With Intellectual Disabilities

Educational Opportunities Program

As part of the new state budget finalized in October, NC State University has been allocated $3 million to establish an education, training and workforce program for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities that will launch in fall 2024. The NC State Educational Opportunities Program will be a university-wide initiative that is administratively housed and managed in NC State’s College of Education.

Designed for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the program will offer educational credentials such as degrees, certificates and non-degree opportunities, as well as provide students with inclusive academic enrichments, socialization, independent living skills and integrated work experiences that will help them develop career skills and lead to gainful  employment. Support and services will include academic and social inclusion in academic courses, extracurricular activities and other aspects of campus life. 

“We’re honored to have been selected to create this program through which we’ll expand our service to a new group of students and families and create additional pathways for them to earn their academic credentials, develop skills and gain experiences that will prepare them for lifelong success,” said the co-chairs of the Educational Opportunities Program planning committee: Doneka Scott, vice chancellor and dean of NC State’s Division of Academic and Student Affairs, and Paola Stzajn, dean of the College of Education.

The Educational Opportunities Program will help address a statewide gap in opportunities available for students with intellectual disabilities (ID) to pursue higher education. Currently, there are students with ID enrolled at 13 inclusive postsecondary education (IPSE) programs in North Carolina, with 10 of those located at community colleges and three at public universities:  Appalachian State University, UNC-Greensboro and Western Carolina University. 

NC State’s Educational Opportunities Program will create more pathways for students with ID to seek postsecondary education, as well as meet the needs of students in a different geographic area and provide additional opportunities for courses of studies, Scott and Sztajn said. 

A planning committee—composed of faculty, administrators and students from across NC State, as well as a consultant—will begin meeting immediately to develop the program so it can enroll its first students in fall 2024:

  • Doneka Scott, Vice Chancellor and Dean, Division of Academic and Student Affairs, co-chair
  • Paola Sztajn, Dean, College of Education, co-chair 
  • Joann Blumenfeld, Director, Catalyst Program, The Science House 
  • Ruben Carbonell, Director, Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology and Science 
  • Cathy Crossland, Professor of Special Education, Teacher Education and Learning Sciences, College of Education 
  • Matt Friedrick, Executive Director of Development, College of Education 
  • Donna McGalliard, Interim Associate Vice Chancellor, Division of Academic and Student Affairs 
  • Mark Newmiller, Director, Disability Resource Office 
  • Kesha Reed, Associate Vice Chancellor and Associate Dean, Division of Academic and Student Affairs 
  • Chenita Rountree, Associate Director for Clinical Services, Counseling Center 
  • Sheri Schwab, Vice Provost, Institutional Equity and Diversity 
  • Kareena Sheshadri, Park Scholar and First-year Student, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences 
  • Melanie Smith, Clinical Faculty and Managing Director, SUCCEED, College of Education 
  • Jon Westover, Associate Vice Provost and Director of Admissions, Office of  Undergraduate Admissions 
  • Cathryn Weir, Program Director, Think College (consultant to committee)