SF State News {University Communications}

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New Institute on Disability honors, expands professor's legacy

October 16, 2012 --

Friends of the late history professor Paul Longmore gathered on Oct. 11 to celebrate the launch of the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability.

Photo of Catherine Kudlick at a lectern, addressing a crowded audience.

Catherine Kudlick, director of the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability, addresses a packed audience at the launch of the institute.

Longmore passed away in 2010, and the institute honors his legacy as a disability rights activist and a pioneer in the field of disability history.

"Our mission is to build on what Paul Longmore started but also to introduce new ideas," said Catherine Kudlick, who joined the faculty this fall as director of the institute and professor of history.

Photo of Catherine Kudlick with a microphone, standing next to a quilt made out of the late Paul Longmore's collection of disability related T-shirts.

Catherine Kudlick presents a quilt made out of the late Paul Longmore's collection of disability related T-shirts.

"The institute's mission is to find ways to flip our thinking about people with disabilities," she said. "This requires thinking of disabled people as engines of creative thinking and social change. Disability is a means for questioning, finding out what we take for granted in society and finding new ways of doing things."

Kudlick, who was a close friend and colleague of Longmore, comes to SF State after more than twenty years as a professor at the University of California, Davis.

Photo of a quilt with a black background and 20 images taken from Paul Longmore's collection if disability related T-shirts.

A quilt created out of Paul Longmore's collection of disability related T-shirts.

She outlined a number of current projects, including the creation of a disability studies library that will include Longmore's extensive book collection. The institute has also forged a new community partnership to help public school students learn about the history of people with disabilities, a topic that schools are now required to teach following the passage of California's FAIR Education Act. 

Longmore was known for his sense of humor, and during his lifetime he amassed a large collection of T-shirts bearing witty messages to challenge people to think differently about disability. The institute has commissioned a special quilt, made out of Longmore's T-shirts, to memorialize his life and achievements. Full descriptions of the T-shirts included in the quilt are available on the institute's website.

Members of the campus community are invited to learn more about the institute at an open house event from noon to 5 p.m. on Oct. 18 in HUM 135 and 136.

To find out more about the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability, visit http://longmoreinstitute.sfsu.edu/

--Elaine Bible


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