One morning in December 1994, Barbara Mayfield visited the Central Missouri State University campus after learning about an intriguing job opening that spoke to her law background and a soft spot in her heart for helping students.
Twenty-three years later, Barbara Mayfield is retiring as director of accessibility services at UCM. Barbara has helped assist those who need it and in ensuring the university remains accessible to everyone.
Before coming to CMSU, Mayfield said she worked with a range of students in the Olathe, Kansas, school district, from early childhood to helping teenagers with behavioral issues. Mayfield then decided to return to the University of Kansas to obtain a law degree in 1992.
However, Mayfield said practicing law wasn’t what she wanted to do, so she started searching for another job in education.
“I decided, ‘You know, I don’t want to get up every day and go do this,’” she said of practicing law. “About that time, I found the job opening here at UCM for a coordinator of the accessibility program.”
Mayfield vividly recalls learning about the job and coming to Warrensburg for the first time in December 1994.
“I had never been to Warrensburg or to UCM – CMSU at that time,” she said. “But I read the ad for the job opening and my eyes lit up and I thought, ‘My Gosh! That sounds like it’s made for me!’”
After learning more about the university from a friend, Mayfield made the trip to Warrensburg, and said she was delighted by what she saw.
“I drove through downtown and I was so impressed with downtown,” she said. “Every building had a shop in it, it was just very vibrant. Then I got to campus and it was so beautiful.”
The accessibility program was without leadership for over a year, and the graduate assistant who was left in charge of the program was new and nervous about running a program that had legal implications. Mayfield went to work, putting her experience in education and law to work.
Although the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 to ensure campus buildings were equally accessible by everyone, Mayfield wanted to ensure that faculty and departments were OK tailoring to meet their students’ needs as well as establishing awareness for students.
“I worked a lot with faculty and made a lot of presentations and visited a lot of offices to try to establish the accessibility services as a reliable place for faculty to send their exams, for students to test, for students to feel safe when they come and that paid off over time,” Mayfield said.
From there, the accessibilities department grew from serving 30 students when Mayfield started to just over 1,000 currently. In the beginning, accessibility services only consisted of one office suite. It has since expanded outward to include multiple places around the Elliott Student Union for testing.
Mayfield has also seen a rise in support dogs and emotional support animals across campus. She said there were no support dogs when she started in 1995. There are now four. There were also no emotional support animals on campus, and today there are almost 90.
Mayfield said she plans to remain in Warrensburg, a place she calls home after living and working here for two decades. Mayfield is still getting used to the idea of retiring and hopes to find a way to enjoy her time.