Robert Leven, PhD, is the 2012 recipient of Rush’s Henry P. Russe, MD, Humanitarian Award, which is given annually to a member of the Rush community who demonstrates an exceptional compassion and commitment to the well-being of others.
Inspired by an uncle who had developmental disabilities and severe asthma, Robert Leven has spent 15 years working on behalf of Rush students with disabilities.
“My uncle was born in 1920, and I’ve often thought about how his life might have been different if he had grown up in the world as it is today, how he might have been able to accomplish or experience what he never had a chance to do,” says Leven, assistant dean of basic science education for Rush Medical College, and associate professor of anatomy and cell biology.
Leven took a lead role in forming Rush University’s Disability Assessment
Team, which responds to student requests for accommodations for a disability.
“We’ve had students with a range of disabilities, including students who use wheelchairs, have a hearing impairment or visual disabilities. The most common disability is a learning disability,” Leven says.
Accommodating these students can range from having lift equipment and assistive listening devices in operating rooms and laboratories to providing extra time for testing or making sure they have reserved parking spots.
“We want to give everybody equal access to our educational programs,”
Leven says. “The hope is that we can help all students have an equal opportunity to succeed.”