ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Dr. Oluwaferanmi Okanlami has been named as the interim director of Services for Students with Disabilities at the Univeristy of Michigan.
An assistant professor at the U-M Medical School, Okanlami will also serve as the director of the adaptive sports in the Michigan Center for Human Athletic Medicine and Performance at Michigan Medicine, which will move to U-M’s Division of Student Life.
The collaborative partnership between Michigan Medicine and Student Life is intended to expand programs and raise awareness of diversity, equity, and inclusion challenges.
Okanlami brings a new perspective and experience to his role leading the collaborative partnership. In 2013, he sustained a spinal cord injury during a driving accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down. Identifying as a wheelchair user, Okanlami has regained some ability to walk using assistive devices. Through his work own experiences with rehabilitation, Okanlami understands first-hand how access to appropriate accommodations impacts the lives of learners.
Having experienced life “from the other side of the stethoscope,” Okanlami is dedicated to “focusing on advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion broadly, but now as an individual living at the intersection of disability and race,” according to a press release.
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As interim director, Okanlami, also called “Dr.O,” will manage SSD operations and staff, provide strategic direction and advocate for the disability community at the U-M.
“As we are re-imagining what a Michigan education will now look like, this is a critical time to ensure that all of our programs are inclusive of, and accessible to all students,” said Okanlami. “It is an exciting opportunity to lead SSD down this new “post-COVID era” road, as we strive to provide each student with what they need in order to succeed, and I look forward to working with others across the institution in order to do so. We are stronger together.”
Okanlami is a spokesperson for Guardian Life and travels nationally to speak about accessibility and inclusivity in health systems, the lack of Black male physicians and other topics relating to equity and diversity.
“As a leader, faculty member and distinguished alumnus of our Medical School, Dr. Okanlami has been a strong advocate for our faculty, staff and learners with disabilities, and he is passionate about empowering them to make significant contributions to building a diverse medical community,” said Dr. Carol R. Bradford, executive vice dean for Academic Affairs at the Medical School.
“His expertise and experiences make him a great choice to lead Services for Students with Disabilities. We look forward to his continued contributions to our larger campus community in this new role.”
Okanlami’s one-year role took effect on July 1. He is taking over for the previous Services for Students with Disabilities interim director Alfred Kellam, who will retire from the U-M in September.