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Faculty Spotlight: Professor Don Dreyer

By Ashley Coto, Special to The Chronicle

Don Dreyer is an undergraduate professor at Hofstra University's School of Communication with hobbies such as writing, photography, and playing the guitar. Aside from being a Hofstra alumni to the class of 1971, this individual brought success into his life by turning his "adversities into a positive outlook."

Raised in Brooklyn, Professor Dreyer was born with a genetic disability known as osteogenesis imperfecta, which in Latin means "brittle bones." People with this condition are usually below average height, and are extremely susceptible to fractures.

"I went through a lot of pain as a little boy -- so many fractures, and loneliness," said Dreyer. "I was homebound so my education was provided to me through professors that came to my house."

That changed for him his sophomore year of high school when he grew physically strong enough to face the typical public school environment.

"Nervous, and scared, but mostly excited," Professor Dreyer announced when he recollected the feelings he had before going to school. Even at his first experience interacting with students at a high school, Dreyer was quick to take part in the school newspaper, and even started his own rock band.

After high school and receiving his masters in public relations at HU in ‘74, Professor Dreyer had many accomplishments to his name. He was the director of Nassau County Police Office for the Physically Challenged for 32 years.

"In 1984, I created a curriculum in the police department for interaction with people with disabilities," Dreyer stated. "I also taught in the police academy from 1985-2009. 2011 was my first year teaching, and that was one of my most memorable experiences in the classroom."

As a new professor at the University, 2011 marked a challenge for him that he never imagined he would have to face. On 9/11, Professor Dreyer had the responsibility of calming the anxieties of his students, while taming his own. It was his first year, and his first month as a professor, yet he said it is something he would never forget.

Professor Dreyer is clearly more then a professor. He created a curriculum, taught police, and rocked in a band. He was homebound, suffered a painful childhood full of fractures, and even today lives his life in a wheelchair.

Short in height but tall in optimism, Professor Dryer is a role model who shows that having a disability does not mean to be owned by one.

Intending to teach for many more years, Dreyer says it is "an opportunity and an honor to teach the future leaders of America." Despite life requirements to avoid all harsh physical contact and live day by day on wheels, Professor Dreyer made the even stronger point that "the disability does not affect my teaching."

 

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