Has someone made a difference during your time at MSU? Have you witnessed a student, staff member, or professor who has gone out of their way to provide an inclusive, accommodating environment for students with disabilities? Please help us recognize them and their efforts by nominating them for one of our awards, presented at the annual Awards and Appreciation Reception.

Students and the community at large are encouraged to help us recognize and celebrate outstanding achievement through nominations for any of our faculty/staff, student and alumni awards. Students and faculty are encouraged to nominate individuals who have made a difference in making MSU a more inclusive place for them.

The Spirit of Ability Award

The Spirit of Ability Award commemorates the empowering heritage of founders who saw beyond disabilities.  They opened higher education to people whose disabilities were commonly perceived to preclude excellence. Honorees are contemporary leaders who continue this MSU tradition of creating vibrant environments that welcome, fortify, and compassionately challenge each person to reach their fullest ability.

The Spirit of Ability Award was created in honor of:

May Shaw, 1934 founder of Tower Guard creating greater accessibility through service.

Judy Gentile, 1971, founding Director of today’s RCPD. A dynamic leader and change agent with remarkable character, vision and leadership that transformed MSU.

James Hamilton, Associate Provost, researcher and administrative leader who vigorously advanced diversity and inclusion selecting Judy Gentile as founding Director in turn opening the door for persons with significant disabilities to pursue their dreams with an MSU education.

Dorothy Milbrook (OPHS Receptionist 1979-1985) her life ended early in a tragic automobile accident but her spirit lives on as one who empowered students through a warm, welcoming and affirming presence that made MSU and the RCPD home for new and returning students alike.

James Bristor, An energetic professor and community organizer who dedicated his teaching, research and service to ensuring people with disabilities engaged fully especially in areas related to recreation and physical activity. 

Student Leadership and Service Award

The Student Leadership and Service Award recognizes outstanding leadership within the RCPD and broader community.   These students uphold MSU core values of quality, inclusiveness and connectivity as they prepare for lives of purpose.

The Student Leadership and Service Award was created in honor of:

Jack Shingleton – World War II veteran, served MSU in many ways including as Director of Placement, Assistant Director of Personnel, Acting Athletic Director, Interim Director of Alumni Relations, and MSU Trustee. His mentorship of each RCPD Director emphasized the significance of leadership and service in creating optimal organizational and professional success.

Marge Chmielewski – RCPD Director 1994-1999 – A mentor to many.

Outstanding Alumni Award

The Outstanding Alumni Award recognizes the accomplishments, leadership and dedication of MSU graduates who make significant contributions to their field.  Their many achievements illustrate the power of education, persistence and creativity in reaching life goals.  We are honored to call them Spartans and thank them for applying their education to the betterment of society.