What better way to learn about event planning and production than by actually putting together a day-long series of sport-related events for a local community organization.

That was just what students in the Sport Management program did. Partnering with the Chesterbrook Community Foundation in Waltham, that provides mentoring, academic support and enrichment in structured after-school and evening programs, the Mount Ida students brought more than 30 students from grades K – 7 to Mount Ida to spend a day building community and learning about the possibilities that exist.

Breanna Muir, a junior and Mount Ida basketball player was one of the 16 students in Professor Heather Gilmour’s Sport Practicum, Event Planning and Production class who helped plan and execute the day’s activities. “We had a full day planned, brought in not only members of our class but of the Mount Ida community as well to help out.”

Student Morgan Rzonca helped organize participation by students in Mount Ida’s Dental Hygiene program who spoke to the visitors about good oral health care. While the students were learning about how to brush, members from several sports teams at Mount Ida were preparing to take them through an obstacle course, have them play games, to get signatures from some of Mount Ida’s star athletes and to enjoy a day of activity and community.

“It was a wonderful event,” says Professor Gilmour. “I’m always so proud of our students not just for their excellent planning, but for the example they set for these young people. I know when I give this service-learning assignment to the members of my Event Planning and Production class, that they will experience much more than a class project. They learn so much about themselves and what it means to be a good citizen.” Gilmour shared with the Chesterbrook visitors that she personally overcame many obstacles to get her education, but with the proper attitude and support, she has been able to achieve her goals.

Muir, who wants to be a coach says she learned a lot about communicating and teaching.  Rzonca’s roommate, an education major who volunteered for the day, was most touched when the Chesterbrook students asked when they would see the Mount Ida group again.

“Planning events is hard,” says Muir. “You always have to be able to change course in midstream. We all walked away feeling exhausted but good about a great day.”


The second annual Universal Design symposium kicked off at Mount Ida College on Friday, March 24, with keynote address by Cynthia Leibrock, author, lecturer and Universal Design expert.

Speaking to a room of teams, composed of Mount Ida students, faculty and members of the community, Leibrock took the audience through a tour of her universally-designed home in Colorado and spoke about how she became not only interested in, but committed to Universal Design. “That means creating designs for health and longevity for all,” she says.

Leibrock began her career as an interior designer working on high-end design for the very wealthy. In her early 30’s she made a life-changing decision. Her brother became ill and developed severe difficulties with mobility. She began to realize that it was not his physical differences that categorized him as disabled.

“We all have physical differences. But, the only disability anyone has is what we cannot do. Once we can do what we want to do, we are no longer disabled. As designers we must create with designs that empower.”

Leibrock challenged the future designers in the audience to envelop the concept of universal design in everything they do. “Separate but equal is not okay,” says Leibrock.  “You have to design the same for all. It has to work for all ages and abilities, or be adaptable for difference circumstances and needs.”

As she led people through each room of her home, some of the solutions were large, and others were inexpensive and very simple. For example, there are no thresholds in her home. Instead of area rugs that rise above a surface, becoming a hazard, she has recessed the rugs into the floor so they remain flush. “The only drawback is you can’t move the rug, but it can easily be removed and cleaned.”

Other designs included a refrigerator with different cooling zones for different foods that helps preserve them longer and leads to healthy eating, as does a sink that serves as a cooker. “You can fill the sink, place a strainer of pasta in it, turn it on and when done, you remove the strainer and send the water down the drain.” Speaking of drains, on one sink she installed a button that allows you to drain the sink without reaching into a pool of dirty water.  Carefully placed, it makes the function easy to do from a wheelchair or by anyone.

Leibrock says her house takes care of her. “I had a knee replacement and when my husband was taking me home, he fell and had to move around on a scooter. People asked who would take care of us? Because of universal design, our house did.”  They were able to cook, eat and live without any restrictions. They were not disabled.

Other items included in her home include a temperature control for the shower that allows you to preset how hot the water is before getting in, an induction cooktop that quickly heats water, is energy efficient, instantly stops cooking when turned off and is cold to the touch. The controls click, light up and have raised lettering, so there are multiple ways to determine that it is on.

There are thermostats that are controlled from her laptop, shelves that pop up, countertop design that will allow for future owners to easily adjust the height, oven doors that swing out, rather than down, retractable doorknobs, grip bars that can be hidden in the wall and solar panels that capture the Colorado sun.

“There is often a stigma associated with many of the designs. That can be overcome with such simple things as being able to hide a grip bar in the bathroom.”

Many of the changes are very inexpensive. Adding a button to the base of a bedside lamp to turn it off, light strips on stairs, a video camera attached to a doorbell.   They are easily purchased at the local hardware store, but can make a huge difference. “You have to realize the power in small changes that lead to a healthy and long life.”

Mount Ida College is now one of 83 campuses in 23 states designated as a “Voter-Friendly Campus.” The initiative, led by national nonpartisan organizations Campus Vote Project (CVP) and NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, held participating institutions accountable for planning and implementing practices that encourage their students to register and vote in the 2016 general election and in the coming years.

The mission of the Voter Friendly Campus designation is to bolster efforts that help students overcome barriers to participating in the political process.  Mount Ida was evaluated based on a campus plan about how they would engage student voters in the fall of 2016, how it facilitated voter engagement efforts and a final analysis of the efforts.

Mount Ida College recently created the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) and under its auspices launched a months-long effort to promote civic engagement, the right of each citizen to vote  and what it means to accept that responsibility.

“The faculty and staff of CCE worked alongside the Mustang Involvement Center, Library, and Associated Student Government to implement this plan throughout the fall semester and beyond.  Initiatives included workshops, lunch and learns, and a mock-voting day,” says Gregg Grenier, Director of Community Engagement.    “We sponsored 26 programs that reached 832 participants (students, staff, and faculty) and worked diligently to help our students become informed, registered and also assured transportation to and from the polls on Election Day.  We offered opportunities to view the Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates in our campus theater and convened on election night to watch as the results came in.”

“Recognition of our community as a ‘Voter Friendly Campus’ is important on so many levels: as confirmation of the growth of our civic engagement program and the involvement of our students at this crucial moment in the history of the republic,” says Barry Brown, President of Mount Ida.

The institutions designated Voter Friendly Campuses represent a wide range of two-year, four-year, public, private, rural, and urban campuses, with a total enrollment of nearly 1.4 million students.

The designation is valid through December 2018.