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2015 Men of the Year Honoree: Christopher Craig

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Christopher Craig proves you don’t need eyesight to have vision.

A Missouri State University professor and associate provost for faculty and academic affairs, Craig is blind. But that experience has helped him as a teacher and in assisting the institutions and people who educate those with similar experiences.

Beyond his work with faculty and students at MSU, for three years Craig served as the director of the Drury University School of Education and Child Development and is the co-founder of the Vision Rehabilitation Center of the Ozarks, which launched in 2010.

“I have used my connections made through my doctoral program at Vanderbilt [University] and own experiences as a person who is totally blind to bring substantial grant funding and needed support to MSU, Drury and the surrounding area,” Craig says. “These funded initiatives include the establishment of high demand programs to prepare educators for work with children and youth with disabilities, along with the establishment of a new not-for-profit that provides unique services.”

While at Drury 2009-12, Craig created VRCO with a team of area ophthalmologists.

The center fills a gap in services Craig recognized in the Ozarks for toddlers, students and adults experiencing significant vision loss.

“What I endeavor to do is bring talented folks together to develop a shared vision on how to have a positive impact on the lives of folks in the Ozarks and beyond,” he says.

Craig has spent the bulk of his career at MSU, beginning in 1996 as the head of the department of reading and special education. By 2009, when he left for Drury, he was the associate provost for faculty.

When he returned to MSU in 2012, he took his former position back, to assist educators.

“While early in my career the focus was on preparing teachers and administrators for work in the pre-K–12 schools, I have been very blessed in my role as associate provost to have had the opportunity to expand my influence to many other professionals across the six academic colleges, the library and the School of Agriculture,” Craig says.

“I have mentored professionals at various stages in their careers to help them either obtain their first job or seek advancement within an organization.

“I have fought alongside many for the rights of persons from underrepresented backgrounds to have access to education and employment opportunities, and have worked to establish policies that help to assure that these folks may enjoy options afforded to all.”

Outside of work, Craig is highly active in the community. He currently serves on the boards of Arc of the Ozarks, where he helped to start an autism clinic with Mercy and MSU as partners, and through Community Foundation of the Ozarks, where he’s helped create a Hispanic outreach center.

His community work includes serving on the boards of The Network for Parents and Families of Children with Developmental Disabilities, the Greater Association of Retarded Citizens and the Southwest Center for Independent Living.

And since 1995, he has taught parents of children with visual loss to read and write Braille.

“In the end, having a positive impact on the lives of others is the only thing that really matters,” he says.  


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