Jim Hemauer, former associate director of Arizona State University’s Disability Resource Center (now known as Student Accessibility and Inclusive Learning Services), died on July 17, 2020, at age 65.
A leader in the disability community, Hemauer devoted his academic and professional life to ensuring that accessibility was a priority at the university and beyond.
He began his time at ASU as a graduate student, earning a master's degree in counseling with an emphasis on higher education and disabilities. Prior to that, he received his BS in social work from the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh.
After graduating from ASU, Hemauer worked as a counselor for Disabled Student Services at Scottsdale Community College and as a program coordinator for the Disabled Student Resource Center at the University of Arkansas.
Hemauer returned to ASU in a professional capacity in 1985 and held various positions within Disabled Student Resources throughout his 25 years working for the university. He started as a program coordinator focused on orthopedic disabilities, and in 1988, transitioned to a disability specialist, senior. In 2006, he was named associate director of the Disability Resource Center, the position he held until he retired from ASU in 2010.
Along with his dedication to helping students succeed, Hemauer also devoted his time and expertise to numerous projects, boards and trainings focused on equity and inclusion for people with disabilities.
He consulted with the National Football League for Superbowl XXX, the Grand Canyon on creating accessible facilities and the National Science Foundation on accessibility for the Arizona Science Center. He served on the Arizona Governor’s Commission on Head & Spinal Injuries, the Nina Mason Pulliam Scholarship advisory board, Valley Metro’s Phoenix Community Council and many others. He also presented at conferences like the National Association of College Residence Halls, was a frequent guest lecturer at ASU and spoke at many schools throughout the Phoenix area.
Hemauer is remembered fondly by his colleagues as someone who valued hard work and doing things well, loved the ASU community and had a lasting impact on those he served.
Chad Price, director of Student Accessibility and Inclusive Learning Services, said Hemauer “was part of the team that made services for students with disabilities what it is at ASU.”
“Jim modeled the charter of ASU before it was the charter,” Price said. “He valued others and found ways to encourage them to be better and seek out ways to improve the space and practices to ensure accessibility. He invited others to be a part of the effort and showed by example.”
James Morin, supervisor for Student Accessibility Transportation, noted that, “Jim brought the (Disability Resource Center) to the community. Accessibility, whether architectural or academic, were his priorities on and off campus.”
“He brought visibility and a can-do spirit with a humble heart to all of his work,” said Lori Johnson, manager of Student Accessibility services for the deaf and hard of hearing. “There was a strong sense of humanity to his leadership position, which endeared him to many across the four campuses.”
“Jim's quiet strength, great sense of humor and sense of self are missed tremendously," Johnson said. "He came from an era where disability rights were just starting out, and he worked quietly and tirelessly to make sure that those rights were given the recognition they should be. He ensured that today's students have much greater access in all areas of this ASU campus and community.”
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