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Learning Effectiveness Program welcomes new director

The University of Denver has hired Jimmie Smith as director of the Learning Effectiveness Program (LEP).

The fee-based program, founded in 1982, offers comprehensive individualized services to more than 200 students with learning disabilities and ADHD at DU.  Academic counselors work with LEP students to enhance existing abilities, develop new learning strategies and address the students’ individual challenges. LEP also helps students with writing skills through the Writing Development Program, offers organizational experts that assist with time management and organizational skills, and helps students with the accommodation request process through the University’s Disability Services program.

DU Today recently spoke with Smith about her background and her ideas for the LEP program.

Tell us about your background.
I graduated magna cum laude from Black Hills State University with a [bachelor’s degree] in psychology and received my [master’s degree] from Framingham Sate College. I have also completed graduate work in higher education leadership from Central Washington University and specialized training in learning disabilities. Before coming to DU, I lived in Kent, Wash., and was the learning disabilities specialist at Renton Technical College.

How did you get into the field of learning disability support?
I have worked in the field of education for almost 35 years. Education is my career of choice. I am passionate about equipping students to be successful. I love helping students discover their strengths and guiding them to use those strengths to reach their goals. I have had this passion as long as I can remember. However, I became even more passionate when my younger son was diagnosed with ADHD and bipolar disorder. Through this experience, I have become even more aware of the challenges students with disabilities face and their need for support.

What unique benefit does the LEP program at DU offer?
What sets LEP apart from programs at other schools is that LEP is relationship-based and we provide individualized support.

What plans do you have for the program in the future?
We believe that LEP has been a “best kept secret” for too long. Our goal is to get the word out nationwide about what we have to offer. We will be attending high school fairs and national conferences to get the word out.

Also, we will be moving to our new home next summer — the 4th floor of Ruffatto Hall. We are very excited about the move. Another goal that we have is to develop a more community feeling among our students. LEP belongs to the students, and we want them to feel comfortable being here.

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