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Date Updated: 21-MAY-2021

Drs. Utsey and Ottenbacher Retire from the School of Health Professions

May 3, 2021, 15:29 PM by UTMB School of Health Professions

The School of Health Professions and Dean Brown are honored to announce that Drs. Carolyn Utsey, chair of the Department of Physical Therapy and Kenneth Ottenbacher, chair of the Division of Rehabilitation Sciences have decided to retire after over 30 and 25 years of exceptional contributions to UTMB.

We will surely miss their enthusiasm, kindness, caring attitude, and professionalism.

An interim Department Chair in Physical Therapy will be named prior to Dr. Utsey's retirement date of January 31 and a national search for a permanent successor will convene shortly afterwards.

Carolyn Utsey

Carolyn Utsey, PhD, PT

Dr. Utsey earned a Bachelor of Science in Pre-Physical Therapy in 1972 from Baylor University and a certificate in Physical Therapy in 1973 from the University of Southwestern Medical School. She completed a Master of Education in Allied Health Education in 1987 and a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Psychology in 2006 from the University of Houston. She joined our faculty in the Department of Physical Therapy as Director of Clinical Education in 1990. She was promoted to Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy in 2008.

Dr. Utsey led her department in developing a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) with the inaugural class of 2008, a transitional DPT with the inaugural class of 2009, and a Bridge DPT program with the inaugural class of 2015. Most recently, she has successfully shepherded a new Hybrid DPT Program to begin in Fall 2021. Dr. Utsey is currently principal investigator of a two-year grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) titled "Advancement of Clinical Partnerships in Medically Underserved Areas of Texas

Dr. Utsey’s academic, clinical, and research areas of expertise include pelvic health, motivational beliefs and teaching/learning strategies, global health, and community and international service-learning. She received funding for pilot projects to support her research on interventions to reduce falls in the elderly by managing incontinence. Complimenting her research Interests in incontinence, Dr. Utsey maintained an active clinical practice in women's health at UTMB and taught the pelvic health modules in both the Bridge and Traditional curricula.

Dr. Utsey is the recipient of numerous awards that indicate her dedication to the University, leadership qualities, passion for educational excellence, global health, and student learning experiences. She has held the Ruby Decker Professorship in Physical Therapy since 2018; held the Jeanette Winfree Professorship in Physical Therapy from 2014-2018; was a 2010 recipient of the Texas Physical Therapy William Gould Memorial Outstanding Faculty Award; a 2015 recipient of the Regents Outstanding Teaching Award; and was inducted as a member of the University of Texas System Kenneth I. Shine, M.D., Academy of Health Science Education in 2015. Her clinical excellence was recognized with her induction as an inaugural member of the Academy of Master Clinicians at UTMB.

Kenneth Ottenbacher, PhD, OTD

Kenneth Ottenbacher

Dr. Ottenbacher earned BS degrees in Health Sciences in 1972 from the University of Montana and in Occupational Therapy in 1975 from the University of Central Arkansas. He completed a MS in 1976 (University of Tennessee) and a PhD in 1982 (University of Missouri-Columbia), both in Special Education and Rehabilitation. Dr. Ottenbacher was a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University at Buffalo before joining the School of Health Professions at UTMB in 1995 (then the School of Allied Health Sciences). He served as Vice Dean from 1995 to 2001 when he became the Senior Associate Dean for Research and Director of the Division of Rehabilitation Sciences. Dr. Ottenbacher was appointed as Associate Director in the Sealy Center on Aging in 1998 by Dr. James Goodwin and continues to serve in that role with Director, Dr. Elena Volpi and Associate Director, Dr. Rebeca Wong.

As director of the Division of Rehabilitation Sciences, Dr. Ottenbacher led the development of the PhD program in Rehabilitation Sciences in 2000, with the first student completing the program in 2004. The program (now directed by Dr. Soham Al Snih) has accepted 55 students and conferred 37 degrees with 13 students currently enrolled. He also developed and led the Postdoctoral Research Training Program, which has accepted 50 fellows, one currently enrolled and 49 completed their training. Dr. Ottenbacher has been a mentor for 11 K-award scholars and the PI of a NIH K12 national training grant funded since 2007, which also includes the University of Florida and the University of Southern California. He also started the Center for Rehabilitation Sciences in 2000, an institutional center (now referred to as the Center for Recovery, Physical Activity and Nutrition, directed by Dr. Blake Rasmussen), that supports interdisciplinary research related to rehabilitation, disability, recovery and nutrition.

Dr. Ottenbacher's research focuses on rehabilitation outcomes with an emphasis on functional performance, disability, and frailty in older adults. He has published > 400 articles that have been cited over 14,600 times (Scopus). Dr. Ottenbacher has received continuous federal funding as a principal investigator since 1984 totaling more than $40 million. He is a past member of the NIH Advisory Board for the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research and has served on multiple study sections and review panels.

Dr. Ottenbacher is a Fellow in the American Occupational Therapy Association, the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine, and the Gerontological Society of America (Health Sciences Division). He is the recipient of numerous awards that reflect his commitment to promoting the field of rehabilitation science and developing research and training programs. He holds the Russell Shearn Moody Distinguished Chair in Neurological Rehabilitation at UTMB. In 2010 he received the Award of Merit from the American Occupational Therapy Association, in 2016 he received the Gold Key Award from the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine; and in 2017 Dr. Ottenbacher was named to the 100 most influential people in Occupational Therapy by the American Occupational Therapy Association.


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