The University of Texas-Pan American now has one of the Top Rehabilitation Counseling Programs in the nation according to the U.S.News & World Report 2009 edition of America's Best Graduate Schools.
"The ranking assures our students and the community of the high quality educational experience offered by the Department of Rehabilitation. For the University, recognition through the ranking promotes our national reputation as an institution of excellence and gives clear indication that we are indeed becoming a student-centered research university. We anticipate the recognition associated with the ranking will result in greater opportunities for our students, faculty members, and colleagues," Dr. Sandra Hansmann, assistant professor in the Department of Rehabilitation, said.
UTPA tied in the rankings with Florida State University, Portland State University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of North Texas, University of Northern Colorado, and The University of Texas at Austin.
According to the U.S. News' Web site, data was collected from more than 12,000 graduate programs to produce the annual rankings. Hansmann said the rankings were based on peer evaluations from academic experts in the field, who considered the program's leadership, high quality faculty, research conducted, and the excellence of its students.
The program's diverse faculty members, many of whom hold leadership positions in rehabilitation organizations, and are considered experts in the areas of public rehabilitation, private rehabilitation services, psychiatric disabilities, addictions, and assistive technology were major factors in the earning of the ranking Hansmann said. Many of the faculty members are recognized nationally as leaders in teaching, professional service, and research publications.
In addition, the program's state and national professional involvement and successes in research and grant programs were also important contributing factors.
"We are one of the few highly ranked programs that doesn't have a doctoral program, and we are very proud of gaining this level of prestige on the strength of our undergraduate and graduate programs," Hansmann said.
Another factor in the program's success is its students, many of whom go on to leadership positions after graduation, which also enhances the program's reputation and prominence Hansmann said. Sixty graduate students and more than 400 undergraduate students are currently enrolled in the program.
"We have a very strong commitment to student success and offer a number of scholarships and other incentives to qualified students. Students are involved in research projects, in conferences, and in publications, and we provide excellent field-based experiences that often lead to successful employment. We have an award-winning undergraduate specialization in deaf rehabilitation, which is the only program of its kind in Texas. In addition, our department is committed to using cutting-edge technologies in teaching and learning to promote student success," she said.
Dr. Cynthia J. Brown, interim vice provost for Academic Affairs for Graduate Programs and Academic Centers, said the Office of Graduate Studies is very proud of the ranking as it will increase community awareness of other UTPA graduate programs in health sciences and human services disciplines as well as the University's 50 other master's programs and two doctoral programs.
"The graduate programs at UTPA in the health sciences and human services areas are among the fastest growing at the University," Brown said. "A significant portion of the local economy is driven by employment in the health sciences and human services area and we're responding to the demand for graduate education from that sector."
If interested in applying to the Department of Rehabilitation programs, the deadline to submit an application for fall 2008 is set for April 18. For a detailed description of various requirements and options, visit http://www.utpa.edu/dept/rehabser or call 956/316-7036.