U. of I. accessibility pioneer entering U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame

Tim Nugent developed and directed a first-of-its-kind program at Illinois for college students with disabilities and also played a key role in the development of para-athletics. As a result, Nugent, who died in 2015, is being inducted posthumously into the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame. Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

OCT 31, 2019 11:45 AM
CRAIG CHAMBERLAIN

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Tim Nugent, the visionary first director of a ground-breaking University of Illinois program for students with disabilities, is being inducted posthumously into the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame.

Nugent will be formally inducted, along with 12 others, at an awards dinner Nov. 1 at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Nugent, often been called the “father of accessibility,” is being inducted as a “special contributor.” The rest of the 2019 class includes individual athletes, a team, a coach and two “legends.”

As part of the induction, a story about Nugent’s life and career has been posted in the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum’s Digital Museum. His story also was told in 2016 in a documentary for the Big Ten Network.

Nugent was a 24-year-old World War II veteran and University of Wisconsin graduate student when, in 1948, he took charge of a new program that has since become the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services at Illinois. Established first to serve the needs of wounded World War II veterans seeking to attend college, it later opened to other students with disabilities and would become the first comprehensive service program of its kind.

Para-athletics was an essential part of Nugent’s vision from the start, having seen the value of athletics in his own life and the restrictions then being placed on people with disabilities. He encouraged his students to bowl, swim, and play wheelchair basketball, football and baseball, among other sports.

Tim Nugent with his Gizz Kids wheelchair basketball team.
University of Illinois photo

Source: Illinois News Bureau

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U. of I. accessibility pioneer entering U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame
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U. of I. accessibility pioneer entering U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame
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Tim Nugent, the visionary first director of a ground-breaking University of Illinois program for students with disabilities, is being inducted posthumously into the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame.