Brief History of the DPRC
The Disability Programs and Resource Center (DPRC) was originally established as the Disabled Student Service Center (DSSC) as a full-time office on Oct. 20, 1975. Members of the Disabled Students Union played a central role in making it happen, with the assistance of the Student Affairs Office at the time. The Center was originally intended to serve students with physical and perceptual disabilities and to assist other units of the university to provide services that result in equivalent educational opportunities. The grand total of students registered with the Center for services during that first year (1975 - 1976) was 299. Overall, the number of students registered has been as high as 900 (in the 1996 - 1997 academic year).
The center was originally funded by an Innovation and Expansion grant from the State Department of Rehabilitation. The grant was a 90-10 percent matching grant refundable up to three years with the university’s share increasing 10 percent each year. Paid staff included a full-time coordinator position and a half-time clerical position. Volunteer student help was a regular part of the center’s program during that first year. Volunteers provided a wide variety of services to students with disabilities as well as helping to staff the center when the coordinator and clerical assistant had other commitments.
Lynn Smith was the first coordinator of the center, and served in that position until 1979 (sadly, Lynn died of AIDS-related causes in 1986). After a national search, Cindy Kolb was hired as the center’s director in 1981 and served the university with distinction until her death from disability-related complications in 1989. Molly Brodie was hired later that year and served as director until 1994. Deidre Defreese, as the senior professional in the center, shepherded the program during another national search for director. During this time the DSSC (which was commonly referred to as the DSS) was renamed the Disability Resource Center (DRC) to better reflect the services provided. Kimberly Bartlett was then hired and served as director from 1995 – 2000. Deidre Defreese stepped in again to lead the DRC while another national search was conducted for a director. This time the director position would be filled with an individual who would not only oversee services to students with disabilities, but would absorb supervision of a smaller unit created in the early '90s to meet the needs of SFSU employees with disabilities, as well as take an administrative leadership role on campus for disability access at all levels. In 2001, Gene Chelberg was hired as director of this new and larger organization called the Disability Programs and Resource Center.
Today, the center is funded in whole by the University’s general operating budget. The staffing has expanded to meet the needs of the campus and includes 19 professional staff positions, three to five special consultants, a considerable number of hourly workers (e.g. sign language interpreters), and numerous part-time student staff. The staff work in partnership with people with disabilities and the campus at large to ensure full and equal access to university programs and facilities.