Will help create new Sri Lankan occupational therapy program

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A Fulbright Specialist grant will send West Virginia University Occupational Therapy Associate Professor Anne F. Cronin, Ph.D., to the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka, to help university faculty design a new undergraduate degree program for occupational therapists.

Though home to a large, modern medical school, there are few training opportunities for occupational therapists in that country, according to Dr. Cronin, who travels to Sri Lanka in May.

“They have a tentative curriculum, but it is heavily medical,” Cronin said. “I have been asked to help them build a curriculum that reflects excellence in occupational therapy. There is only one other educational program training occupational therapists in Sri Lanka, and it is a technical program that does not include a bachelor’s or master’s degree.”

Fulbright Specialist award recipients are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, and Cronin will be one of about 400 select United States university faculty and professionals traveling abroad through the program. The Specialist grant was created 10 years ago to complement the traditional Fulbright Scholar Program. Through these short-term academic opportunities, the work of Fulbright grantees supports curricular and faculty development and institutional planning at post-secondary academic institutions around the world.

The Fulbright Program, America’s flagship international educational exchange activity, is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Over its 60 years of existence, more than 285,000 emerging leaders in their professional fields have received Fulbright awards, including individuals who later became heads of government, Nobel Prize winners and leaders in education, business, journalism, the arts and other fields. Cronin is honored to be included among them.

“After being surprised, I was excited,” Cronin said. “There are a lot of people in West Virginia whose families came from the Indian subcontinent. When we talk about supporting diversity as we train clinical practitioners, experience with issues commonly addressed by occupational therapists as they interface with these cultures will make me a better teacher and clinician.”

For more information: Angela Jones, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
lr: 01-01-11