ACT’s Shelley Papenfuse Receives Honor from UT’s Disability Studies Program

Phot of Shelley and Dr. Nielsen with framed award.
Dr. Kim Nielsen presents Shelley Papenfuse with framed announcement of the Prize named in her honor.

Shelley Papenfuse, ACT’s Long Term Care Program Manager, was honored at the Ability Center Board of Trustee Holiday dinner at La Scola, December 2.

For her lifetime of contribution, and in particular, her efforts leading to the development of the Disability Studies program at the University of Toledo, Ms Papenfuse is being celebrated with the creation of the “Papenfuse Prize in Disability Studies for Undergraduate Writing.”

This award will be presented each year to a worthy student in the Disability Studies program for any critical paper or creative writing produced in an undergraduate Disability Studies class. Disability Studies faculty, in conjunction with invited guests, will convene a special committee to select a winner by considering the depth of content, proficiency of language, creativity of style, and originality of analysis.

The award will be given out annually at the April honors and awards ceremony of the College of Languages, Literature, and Social Sciences.

The surprise honor was announced to the Board and to Ms Papenfuse by Dr. Kim Nielsen, Interim Chair of Disability Studies.

About Ms. Papenfuse:

Shelley Papenfuse is a native Toledoan who has been advocating for the rights of women and people living with disabilities most of her life. Living with a disability since early childhood, she attended the segregated Cherry Street-Charles Feilbach School until high school. She was part of the first class of students with disabilities to graduate from Start High School in 1977. Shelley was an early member of Barrier-Free Toledo, a pioneer advocacy group creating access in Toledo. She was a founding member of the Ohio Olmstead Task Force, and has been Chairperson for the Ohio Developmental Disability Planning Council.

The impact on disability of which she is most proud is the work she has done to develop and bring to fruition the Disability Studies program at the University of Toledo. Her collaboration with Dr. Patricia Murphy to lay the groundwork and build the collaboration between the University and The Ability Center was invaluable to the genesis and revolutionary placement of the program alongside Women and Gender Studies and Africana Studies, within Law and Social Thought, in the College of Arts and Sciences. For this effort, she was a recipient of the 2004 YWCA Milestones Award in Education.

Ms Papenfuse lives in the Old West End and continues to advocate for people living with disabilities as Long Term Care Program Manager for The Ability Center.