The Teachers College at Emporia State University named Dr. Damara Goff Paris the 2023-24 John E. King Endowed Professor.
Dr. Paris was recently promoted to full professor in Counselor Education within The School of Applied Health Sciences. She began working for Emporia State University in 2014.
"I was very surprised to have been chosen for this prestigious award," Paris said. "I am very honored to have been chosen."
Paris is an advocate for accessibility for people with disabilities.
"As a child with several disabilities going through the education system in the 1970s, I am aware on a personal level of the barriers that students with disabilities face in K-12 and higher education environments," she said.
When Paris first arrived at ESU, she was captivated with the stories that were shared about Dr. John E. King.
"One of the stories was that in 1959, during his presidency at ESU, he would have the football players carry students in wheelchairs up and down the stairs to attend classes, and that he began addressing architectural barriers," Paris said. "This was before sweeping legislation addressing accessibility were enacted (the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the subsequent Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990). As a person with disabilities, this resonated with me."
Paris said she is proud of ESU's legacy as one of the early pioneers on campus accessibility.
"I often share this story with my colleagues in the field as well as incoming students," she said. "Dr. King was a national figure who made many strides as an educator. I can only hope to exemplify the values he demonstrated throughout his career."
Dr. Carrie Boettcher, assistant professor in Counselor Education at Emporia State University supported Paris in this award.
"She has incorporated themes of working with underserved populations such as indigenous populations, the deaf and hard of hearing community, and individuals with disabilities in the criminal justice system in the majority of her rehabilitation counseling, addictions and clinical mental health courses, extending the reach of rehabilitation and working with individuals with disabilities beyond the rehabilitation counseling concentrations," Boettcher said. "This shows her commitment to progressive and impactful curriculum."
Paris has received multiple awards during her tenure at Emporia State University. In 2020, she received the Excellence in Scholarly Activity Award from The Teachers College. In 2022, Dr. Paris won The Teachers College's Excellence in Service Award and the Ruth Schillinger Award through the Ethics and Gender Studies Program. She was also awarded Emporia State's 2023 Graduate Mentor Award. She consulted on the film "Being Michelle" about a deaf woman with autism who survived abuse and prison which won multiple film festival awards. In 2021, Dr. Paris co-edited a textbook entitled Deaf People in the Criminal Justice System: Selected Topics on Advocacy, Incarceration, and Social Justice.
A gift made by Arthur C. Piculell, Jr. established the Dr. John E. King Endowed Professorship in 2019 to honor Dr. John E. King, the 11th president of Kansas State Teachers College, now Emporia State University.