associate dean of Student Academic Resources, coordinates Wesleyan's
Disabilities Services, the Student Academic Resource Network (SARN) and SARN
Peer Advisors and the First Year Matters Program.
Associate Dean Helps Students Succeed Through Wesleyan's Multiple
When a student encounters academic woes at Wesleyan, Sarah Lazare will find
a pathway that may lead the student to success.
"There are so many academic resources available to our students," says
Lazare, associate dean of Student Academic Resources. "When students find
themselves stumbling, all they have to do is ask. We will help them find a
Dean Lazare works with students from all areas of campus and all class
years. She administers Disabilities Services, oversees the Student Academic
Resource Network (SARN) and SARN Peer Advisors, and coordinates the First
Year Matters Program.
As part of the Office for Diversity and Academic Achievement, Lazare
oversees reasonable accommodations for almost 200 undergraduates with a
diagnosed disability. "Disability" could mean something as simple as a
problem sleeping, social anxiety or trouble with visually processing
information, to chronic illnesses and diseases. What makes it a disability
is if it substantially limits or impairs a major life activity.
"Sometimes I get to be a creative problem solver," says Lazare. "Whether it
is a student who has a reading disorder, or a student with arthritis or even
a chronic illness that prevents a student from getting to class on a regular
basis, I try to work with the student, professors, or residential life to
come up with a reasonable accommodation."
Lazare helps some students with reading disabilities gain access to their
course readings through the use of Kurzweil 3000, a screen reading
software that converts images to text and then speaks material to them. This
allows students who have processing and executive function disorders or
other visual reading disorders to hear the text while reading it.
She also educates students and their professors on how a disability might
substantially limit a student’s learning. It is the responsibility of
everyone involved to obtain the most appropriate access to education for a
student, she explains.
"The students I work with, regardless of learning disabilities, are some of
the most brilliant students on this campus," she says.
She encourages anyone who has questions about disabilities or what a
"reasonable accommodation" means, to ask.
In addition to helping students with disabilities, Lazare oversees the
development of the Student Academic Resource Network (SARN), and trains 14
juniors and seniors to be SARN peer advisors. These advisors meet with first
year or transfer students to offer advice on curricula, course
registration and strategies on ways of studying and managing time. They also
provide referrals related to academic support services. Some of these
services include writing and math workshops, life sciences study
groups, services for non-native speakers, the Quantitative Analysis Center
for teaching and research needs, the Office of International Studies, the
Career Resource Center, the Health Professionals Partnership Initiative, the
Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program and one-on-one tutoring.
Lazare also coordinates the First Year Matters program, which provides
information and events on academic and community life at Wesleyan. The
program introduces first-year students to a campus where community members
interact daily with the complexities and responsibilities of living in an
inclusive and multicultural world. It entails meetings, guest speakers,
exhibitions, discussions and a frequent e-newsletter.
Lazare started working at Wesleyan in December 2006. She holds a bachelor's
degree in religion from Smith College; a master's degree in higher education
from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst; and a law degree from CUNY
School of Law.
At Smith College, Lazare served as the coordinator of Tutorial Services,
interim coordinator of Disability Services, assistant director of the Peer
Mentoring Program for Underrepresented Students in the Sciences and resident
director of the Community Colleges Connections Summer Program. At CUNY
School of Law, she served as the coordinator of Student Activities and
As for practicing law, Lazare says "the best part of it" was the research
"I didn’t like courtroom trial work and I missed working with students," she
says. "I really love the opportunities my job here at Wesleyan provides. I love helping students attain their dreams."
Lazare, a resident of Middletown, spends her free time with her two border
collie mixes, Cole and Dudley Roy Gates Lazare. She also enjoys playing pool
"If you see me on campus with my dogs, please come and introduce yourself.
We’d love to meet you," she says.
Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection