IN MEMORIAM: Elmer Bartels, Adjunct Professor at Assumption College, National Leader in Vocational Rehabilitation Field
Elmer C. Bartels, adjunct faculty member in Assumption College's Human Services and Rehabilitation Counseling graduate program, died July 5, 2014, in his Bedford, Mass., home. He was 76.
Bartels was a prominent advocate for the rights of individuals with disabilities, a national disability leader and pioneer on issues related to employment, vocational rehabilitation and independent living; and served for 30 years—under seven governors—as commissioner of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.
According to a July 13, 2014, Boston Globe article, Governor Michael S. Dukakis appointed Bartels in February 1977 to lead the state Rehabilitation Commission. "In May 2007, he was thought to be the state's longest-serving commissioner when Governor Deval Patrick, while replacing several agency heads, ended his tenure."
At Assumption, Bartels taught the Master’s-level Rehabilitation Administration and Management course, from 2008 to 2012.
“Elmer’s 30 years of experience as commissioner of the state’s Rehabilitation Commission as well as his lifetime of advocacy for individuals with disabilities provided our Rehabilitation Counseling graduate students with a great opportunity to meet and interact with one of the true pioneers in the disability rights movement,” said Lee Pearson, director of Assumption’s Rehabilitation Counseling graduate program.
“His willingness to share his experience as commissioner and to engage in lively discussion with students was invaluable. Elmer enjoyed meeting our students and supporting their interests and future careers in rehabilitation counseling and serving individuals with disabilities. He is greatly missed.”
Read more about the life of Elmer Bartels:
The Boston Globe: "Elmer Bartels, 76, of Bedford; Longtime Advocate for Disabled," July 13, 2014
- Full obituary here
Kimberly Dunbar, Director of Public Affairs, Assumption College