Brenau occupational therapy celebrates opening of new headquarters and academic facilities

Aug 25, 2011
Rudi Kiefer

The Occupational Therapy Department at Brenau University will hold a grand opening Friday, Feb. 18, at its new 19,000 square-foot facility on the “Brenau East” campus at Featherbone Communiversity, located at 999 Chestnut St. SE in Gainesville.

The open-to-the-public celebration from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. features an appearance by Ricardo C. Carrasco, one of the top occupational therapy educators in the country as well as a grand master in Ikebana, or the art and discipline of Japanese flower arranging. Carrasco will provide both a presentation on the art and science of occupational therapy as well as a demonstration in the art and science of Ikebana.

The dedication ceremony and Carrasco’s presentation will occur from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in Whalen Auditorium, which is located near the front entry of Brenau East. Immediately following, there will be a reception and tours of the adjacent occupational therapy facilities, accessible through hallways leading from the auditorium.

“We are extremely proud of our new facilities,” said Barbara A. Schell, chair of the Brenau occupational therapy department. “We are so pleased that Dr. Carrasco will be on hand to help us share the power of doing for healing. .”

The highly regarded Brenau occupational therapy program is one of the fastest-growing disciplines at the university. Currently about 150 students are enrolled in Brenau’s dual degree programs in Gainesville and at North Atlanta/Norcross campus, which was also recently upgraded to accommodate OT growth. Recent action by Brenau’s accrediting board elevating the university’s status to a doctoral degree-granting institution paves the way for Brenau to offer a doctorate in occupational therapy as early as 2012.

Occupational therapy is based on the premise that people can be helped to participate in life by careful attention to both the ways they do activities and the places they do them. Occupational therapists draw from the fields of medicine, psychology, sociology, anthropology, ethnography, architecture and many other disciplines in working with individuals to help them live healthier, more fulfilling lives by learning and relearning every-day tasks and coping skills. In the unique 12-year-old dual degree Brenau program, graduates can earn both a bachelor of science and a master of science degree in five years.

The new occupational therapy wing of Brenau East is about 10 times the size of OT’s previous 2,725 square-foot base at 611 Main Street in Gainesville, space that has recently renovated to handle expansions in math and science departments. The Brenau East campus, located about a mile from the main campus in Gainesville, opened in 2007 as the home of the university’s nursing department. Since then, it has been expanded to include space for dance studios and other university activities. It is decorated in part with paintings and other pieces from the university’s impressive permanent art collection.

OT’s new state-of-the-art facility includes “smart” classrooms and seminar rooms, 15 offices and three observation/practice laboratories for adults and children. The adult labs have complete bathrooms and kitchens with cabinetry and appliance to aid in the assessment of and intervention training. There is also a dedicated assessment library, which doubles as additional me4eting space. WiFi -equipped student lounge with laptop study chairs and a graduate research room.

Schell said that OT students and professionals as well as others will have great interest in Carrasco’s presentation.

“Every person has been touched by another who has tried to get back to a normal lifestyle after some cataclysmic event, serious illness life-altering injury,” said Schell. “Dr. Carrasco has blended both his professional expertise and life’s passion in providing solutions to that kind of critical problem.”

Carrasco has more than 35 years of occupational therapy, neuropsychology, education, and business experience. He is professor emeritus and former chairman of the Department of Occupational Therapy at the Medical College of Georgia, and he currently program development consultant for Nova Southeastern University Tampa Campus and Faculty for Summit Professional Education. He is Chair of the Florida Occupational Therapy Association Sensory Integration Special Interest Section, and is the 2010 recipient of the highest American Occupational Therapy Association recognition for an occupational therapist, the Award of Merit.

But he is also Iemoto and Momiji no Kyoshi, or Headmaster and Professor of Banmi Shofu Ryu of Ikebana

Blending the two, his practice and research endeavors revolve around individuals with sensory processing disorders, and he has published and presented extensively on the subject.

Originally published on 2/16/11