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Gilfoyle Endowment supports the Assistive Technology Resource Center

February 13, 2012

Cecilia Martin, Kevin Oltjenbruns, Marla Roll and Ellie Gilfoyle (seated) at the signing ceremony for the endowment. Ellie and Gene Gilfoyle have long been recognized as ardent advocates for creating services and opportunities for people with disabilities. Recently, Ellie culminated their lifelong efforts by establishing the Gene and Ellie Gilfoyle Endowment for the Assistive Technology Resource Center.

Recognizing the need for these services and with an eye on the experiential learning opportunities it would create for occupational therapy students, Ellie had the foresight and passion to write the original grant to IBM to start the ATRC in the early 1990s. Today, the ATRC continues her vision of providing access to technology and electronic information for CSU students and employees with disabilities.

A leading center in higher education

“The center that Ellie helped to establish is one of the leading assistive technology centers in higher education. It is infused with the perspective of occupational therapy, and that makes its services particularly powerful and impactful. Now with Ellie and Gene’s endowment, the Department of Occupational Therapy is able to engage more graduate students in assistive technology,” said Wendy Wood, OT department head.

In 1982, Ellie joined CSU’s Department of Occupational Therapy, where she later became the department head and then the dean of the College of Applied Human Sciences. Following her tenure as dean, she was appointed as provost and academic vice president of CSU.

A passion for OT

“Ellie came to OT with a passion and love that grew the department to what it is today,” said Nancy Hartley, former dean of Applied Human Sciences. “When OT began, they moved from an area of home economics to become a model program, ranked among the top 10 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report,” she said. “Ellie’s influence, leadership, friendship, and support have permeated this department and the University.”

In 2005, Gene had an unfortunate accident, resulting in a spinal cord injury. During his rehabilitation, the ATRC provided Gene with assistive technology services to enable him to continue his work at home in financial management. “The ATRC gave Gene the skills and opportunity to continue his work. Our family personally reaped the benefits of the ATRC, and we are very grateful,” said Ellie.

Gene died on Nov. 9, 2010, at his home in Loveland. He and Ellie were married for 52 years. At her February endowment signing ceremony, Ellie said, “OT has been a part of Gene’s and my life for 53 years, and he would be so happy to see how the OT department and the ATRC have grown.”

All who have benefited from the expertise of ATRC staff and those who will receive assistance in the future are a tribute to the significance of the Gene and Ellie Gilfoyle Endowment. Ellie’s understanding of the importance of assistive technology has been critical for the people the College serves.

This story originally appeared in Inspirations 2011, the College of Applied Human Sciences magazine.


Contact: Tracy Kile Schwartz
E-mail: Tracy.Kile_Schwartz@colostate.edu
Phone: 970.491.7525