Disability Services moves to Hamre Center


Karsten Beling

Photo by Karsten Beling ’22

Ella Pinkert and Evelyn Kent

With the aim to better serve the students at Macalester, Disability Services has moved under the Laurie Hamre Center for Health and Wellness. The recently announced shift is on a successful trajectory, but continues to be a work in progress.

“[D]uring the summer there were divisional reorganizations and realignments with administrative and departmental staff; some of these were to to better incorporate academic and student affairs and it also had an impact on reporting lines,” Director of Disability Services Melissa Fletcher wrote in an email to The Mac Weekly.

As both the Hamre Center and Disability Services focus on student wellbeing and work directly with students, the merger provides an opportunity for both departments to improve upon that mission.

“[A]s many of our students with disabilities have mental health impacts, it also makes sense to better collaborate with supportive clinical services all in one place,” Fletcher wrote. She says the merger will not dramatically change the services of either, or the day to day work, but hopefully integrate the two services to better assist students.

DeResha Vaughan, administrative coordinator in the Hamre Center, saw the shift as “a natural fit.” The two departments have worked closely together for a while, and she thinks that Disability Services’ move will further the work they do.

For students with medical appointments or other services in the Hamre Center, their access to Disability Services will increase, and work together with the school’s health care system. 

“My hope with the integration is that it will help the members of the Hamre Center have more awareness of accessibility and how we can provide better services with the knowledge that Disability Services is going to be bringing to us,” Vaughan said.

For the time being, Disability Services and the Hamre Center are functioning mostly the same as how they had before and working together well, but leaders in the departments are collaborating more. 

Interim Executive Director of the Laurie Hamre Center for Health and Wellness Steph Walters wrote to The Mac Weekly in an email that she and others are excited for this change. 

“Hamre center folks who were here before the addition of DS are THRILLED to have DS perspective, voice, input, and expertise at our regular meetings and involved in our strategic vision,” Walters wrote.

One of the potential challenges is the Hamre Center and Disability Services being located in two physically separate places. For now, Disability Services is still located in Kagin Commons due to constraints on space in the Hamre Center, which is located in the Leonard Center. 

“[This] has been confusing at times for students and we recognize that,” Fletcher wrote. 

Overall, though, staff overwhelmingly see the positives of the merger. Leaders of the departments are still working on what the final product will look like. 

“We are still in the ‘thinking” stages,’ Fletcher wrote.