On Tuesday, July 28, U.S. Representative Rodney Davis and U.S. Senator Mark Kirk introduced a bill to award a Congressional Gold Medal to Dr. Timothy Nugent “in recognition of his pioneering work on behalf of people with disabilities, including disabled veterans.”
In 1948, Nugent founded the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES), the first post-secondary disability support service program in the world. He served as a professor of rehabilitation education and was the Director of the Rehabilitation Education Center and DRES until he retired in 1985.
During Nugent’s leadership, Illinois became the first post-secondary institution to introduce curb cuts, the first institution with a fixed-route bus system designed with wheelchair lifts, a founder in wheelchair athletics and a leader in developing architectural accessibility standards that were later adopted nationally. Nugent also founded the National Wheelchair Basketball Association in 1949 and served as Commissioner for its first 25 years. Because of Nugent’s legacy, Illinois continues to be a leader in accessibility today.
“It is hard to think of any individual who has made a more positive impact on so much of the world that we all take for granted than Tim Nugent,” said Chancellor Phyllis Wise, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. “He has spent his life and his career fighting to give a voice to those in society who so many others were willing to ignore. He didn't do it for personal gain or for public recognition. He did so because he believed it was the right thing to do. This is an honor for which he is long overdue.”
According to the “Guide to Major Congressional and Presidential Awards,” The Congressional Gold Medal is considered “the nation’s highest civilian award and the most distinguished award” given by the U.S. Congress.
See a copy of the Congressional bill here.