Campus News

BLOG: Belonging and Engagement Among Students With Disabilities

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 18, 2017) — Following is a blog by University of Kentucky Vice President for Institutional Diversity Sonja Feist-Price:

Here, at the University of Kentucky, we strive to provide a diverse and inclusive campus community where all of our students, faculty, and staff experience openness and acceptance, and in which people of all backgrounds, identities, and perspectives can feel secure and welcome. Offering anything less limits the extent to which our constituents maximize their full potential. This goal can only be realized through belonging and meaningful engagement of our students, faculty and staff.

Together, we can create a greater sense of belonging and engagement throughout our campus community, which is especially paramount for recruiting, retaining and graduating our students. Among the four pillars of academic excellence is belonging and engagement, recognized as a core ingredient for academic excellence and student success. 

The importance of belonging and engagement is also articulated in a recent article titled "Influence of Social Factors on Student Satisfaction among College Students with Disabilities."  Researchers were particularly interested in the relationship between belonging and students’ satisfaction within their academic institution, and the impact of self-advocacy and perceptions of campus climate among students with disabilities.  This research went beyond traditional scholarly work about students with disabilities, where the focus is on academic accessibility and accommodations.  Results from this study examined the experiences of students with disabilities at three large 4-year academic institutions, and found that “students with a higher sense of belonging are more likely to be satisfied because they have a higher sense of self-advocacy and because they have an improved perception of the campus climate.”

The fact that belonging and engagement is one of the four pillars of academic excellence at the University of Kentucky is no accident.  We welcome and celebrate self-advocacy, as we work to ensure that this is an important part of our students’ experience.  President Capilouto, Provost Tracy, the Office for Institutional Diversity, and our entire campus community are fully committed to ensuring that our students with disabilities, as well as all of our students, feel a sense of belonging and engagement as an indispensable part of the tapestry of our campus.