Concordia to open college for students with developmental disabilities

Concordia University Wisconsin, located in Mequon, will diversify its academic offerings this fall with a new college designed for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


The Bethesda College of Applied Learning at CUW will begin offering courses of study for eight students at the end of the month, guiding them toward independence. The two-year program is made possible by a partnership between CUW and Bethesda Lutheran Communities, a Watertown-based nonprofit organization that works with individuals with developmental disabilities in programs throughout 14 states.

“People with developmental disabilities often find it very challenging to discover postsecondary opportunities,” said John Bauer, Ph.D., president and CEO of Bethesda, which shares CUW’s Lutheran identity. “Bethesda College will provide choices and opportunities that are responsive to each student’s unique learning style as well as help prepare them for future growth and success.”

The college’s curriculum will coach students in academics, career preparation, adult living skills, and campus and community life.

“This partnership between Concordia and Bethesda promises to be a great blessing to the students involved and to those whose lives they touch,” said CUW’s president, Rev. Patrick Ferry, Ph.D. “Our mission of ‘helping students to develop in mind, body and spirit for service to Christ in the church and the world’ will be accomplished in and through our Bethesda College students in remarkable ways.”

Bethesda College graduates will earn a Certificate of Applied Learning. While completing the certificate, they will live on campus in residence halls.

Bethesda College will also provide opportunities for CUW students studying special education to work with its students throughout the school year.

The college will be headed by Wanda Routier, CUW assistant professor and director of graduate special education programs. Routier’s career has included more than 20 years of special education work.

Carol Burns, who has more than 30 years of experience working with students with disabilities in postsecondary education, will serve as program director.

The university is looking into establishing similar colleges at other campuses in the Concordia University System. Concordia University Ann Arbor, located in Ann Arbor, Mich., will open a college for students with developmental disabilities at the start of the 2015-16 school year.

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