Johns Hopkins names first executive director for Student Disability Services

Catherine Axe joins the university March 11 from a similar role at Brown

Johns Hopkins University has announced the hiring the school's first executive director for Student Disability Services, deepening its commitment to serving people with disabilities on its campuses.

Cathie Axe

Image caption: Cathie Axe

Catherine Axe, currently the director of Student Disability Services at Brown University, has been selected to fill the new universitywide role. She will provide guidance and support for disability coordinators across the university; oversee accommodation needs for students; and build awareness, knowledge, and skills among the school's faculty, staff, and graduate teaching assistants.

Axe, who will join Hopkins on March 11, said she's looking forward to working with the Johns Hopkins community and is excited about the impact she can make.

"We want to make the experience here fully inclusive, and where we all can enjoy what diversity brings to the community," Axe said. "I want every member of the community here to have the experience they want to, where they feel included and where their focus can be on what they want it to be on, instead of on extra barriers."

The role is designed to support students with disabilities inside and outside the classroom, including accessibility of coursework, housing, dining, and information technology. Axe will work closely with the Office of Institutional Equity to ensure necessary compliance and training.

Axe was chosen for the role after a search that began in the fall. Her experience includes working on disability programs at George Mason University, Northern Virginia Community College, and American University.

Most recently, she worked to build the disability services at Brown from the ground up, growing the program from a single staff member to a team of eight. There she developed a comprehensive diversity and inclusion plan for Accessibility Services, including analyzing the effectiveness of service delivery and support across specific groups.

Sarah Cunningham, JHU's assistant vice provost for Student Life Strategy and Policy, Axe stood out among the finalists due to her work with technology and developing meaningful training programs for faculty, staff, and students.

"Cathie's exceptional communication skills, commitment to building relationships across campus to enhance the student experience, and proven record of leadership in the field of disability services will set her up to be successful in this new role in our community," she said.