McGinley-Rice Symposium Focuses on the Person with a Disability

The School of Nursing’s annual McGinley-Rice Symposium returns with a look at disability through the eyes of the person with a disability.

Sister Rosemary Donley, S.C.

Registration is open for Exploring Social Justice for Vulnerable Populations: The Face of the Person with a Disability, which will be held Thursday, Oct. 27, and Friday, Oct. 28, in the Power Center’s Charles J. Dougherty Ballroom.

“We tend to forget that disability is probably the most common of all the vulnerabilities that a person can have,” said symposium coordinator Sister Rosemary Donley, S.C., who is the Jacques Laval Endowed Chair for Justice for Vulnerable Populations in the nursing school. “As people age, they have to deal with some disability.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every five adults in the United States has a disability. “Statistics say that if you live to be older than 70, you’re going to spend about eight years or 11.5 percent of your life span living with a disability. The connection between age and disability is just incredible.”

While awareness of the impact of living with a disability has increased, Donley pointed out that it’s not always enough, especially here in Pittsburgh. “We have the second-largest population of aging people in the United States,” said Donley. “So we’re going to be challenged to help the disabled. It’s a very important topic to bring to people’s attention.”

Symposium keynote speakers and their topics include:

  • The Rev. William Christy, C.S.Sp., assistant director of Spiritan Campus Ministry, Disability and the Conversion of Community: A Theological Reflection
  • Dr. Rory Cooper, distinguished professor of rehabilitation science in technology and founding director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories at the University of Pittsburgh, Forging a New Future through Technology and Education
  • Dr. Catherine Gaines Ling, associate professor and family nurse practitioner concentration director at the University of South Florida, Creating Awareness: Disabilities and Experiential Learning
  • Suzanne Smeltzer, professor and director of the Center for Nursing Research at the Villanova University College of Nursing, Why People with Disability Matter.

The symposium will also feature two plenary panel discussions, various breakout and poster sessions, and presentations.

The Face of the Person with a Disability is open to the public. For more information, including cost and a detailed agenda, visit or call the nursing school at 412.396.6550.