Dykens, UCEDD recognized for service to individuals with disabilities

Elisabeth Dykens (Daniel Dubois/Vanderbilt)

Individuals and representatives of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) were recognized at the annual conference of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) in early November.

The Outstanding Achievement Award was presented to Elisabeth Dykens, director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and co-director of the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, for having “devoted her career to improving the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families through research, teaching and community and public service.” The award recognizes an executive, faculty or staff member who has demonstrated excellence in teaching, scholarship and service to the wider community.

Meghan Burke, a doctoral student in special education at Peabody College and a VKC UCEDD trainee, was given the 2011 Anne Rudigier Award recognizing an outstanding trainee or student. In the nomination letter, the UCEDD leadership wrote, “Meghan demonstrates an unparalleled combination of accomplishment and commitment to serving people with disabilities and their families.”

The VKC UCEDD also received the 2011 Council on Community Advocacy Award, nominated by the Council on Community Advocacy and the AUCD’s Community Advisory Council, who wrote, “In the six years since VKC became a UCEDD, it has grown and expanded its training, research and service in the community. The Community Advisory Council plays an integral role in advising and providing suggestions to the UCEDD faculty and staff. CAC input and suggestions are encouraged, listened to and incorporated into UCEDD planning, supports and services.”

“To receive this level of recognition after only six years is quite extraordinary,” said Elise McMillan, co-director of the VKC UCEDD. “We are so proud of Elisabeth’s and Meghan’s exceptional contributions. And for our UCEDD to be nominated by our own Community Advisory Council speaks to the remarkable partnership we have with these dedicated self-advocates, parents and community members from across Tennessee.”

Contact: Courtney Taylor, (615) 322-5658