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Pieces of Eight


Gill Receives Thomas Award

East Carolina University Assistant Director of Facilities Services John Gill was recognized as the 2008 recipient of the Laura Thomas Award in honor of his efforts in support of disability services at ECU.


Presented annually by the N.C. Association on Higher Education and Disability, an affiliate of the national group AHEAD, the award recognizes an outstanding individual working outside the field of disability service, who has demonstrated exemplary support of disability service in an academic community.

The award is meant to honor a person who has made life easier for disabled persons, especially those who may not even realize the value of his or her contribution.

As a landscape architect for Grounds Services, Gill assesses new campus buildings and renovations to assure that the landscaping works and that it provides accessibility for students, faculty or staff with disabilities.

Gill also manages incidents that frequently arise to hamper accessibility, such as temporary closure of campus sidewalks for repairs. When that happens, most students can just walk around the area. But for a student who is blind, Gill said, “the change may cause confusion for the student or for the student’s guide dog.”

When such incidents take place, Gill contacts ECU Disability Support Services and they notify the faculty, staff and students most affected by the situation.

Diane J. Majewski of ECU’s Disability Support Services nominated Gill for the award, calling him the department’s “eyes and ears in matters related to physical access on campus.”

“It is not uncommon for Disability Services to receive a call from Mr. Gill immediately, when he notices a situation on campus that creates a barrier for students, faculty and staff with disabilities,” she said.

He is thoughtful, diligent and proactive in addressing campus accessibility, Majewski said.

“I am very surprised and very honored to have received this award,” Gill said.

The NC-AHEAD executive board established the award in 1996 in memory of Laura L. D. Thomas, director of disability services at UNC – Chapel Hill for 17 years and a pioneer in disability services in the state.



This page originally appeared in the April 4, 2008 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at