Professor emerita receives 2016 Outstanding Alumna award

Sandra Edwards, professor emerita in occupational therapy, has been honored as the 2016 Outstanding Alumna by the Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of Florida. The award is given annually to an outstanding alumni selected by the chair and faculty in the occupational therapy department in the College of Public Health and Health Professions.

Professor Edwards was nominated for the prestigious award based on her "excellence in professional practice and exceptional leadership in the advancement of the public health and health professions," according to a letter from Michael Perri, Ph.D., dean of the College of Public Health and Health Professions.

"It is an amazing honor to receive this from the University of Florida's Occupational Therapy Department," said Professor Edwards. "I am quite humbled by this validation of my work."

After graduating from the University of Florida in 1965, Edwards worked at Boston's Beth Israel Hospital, and El Portal del Sol School for Cerebral Palsied and Orthopaedically Handicapped Children in San Mateo, California. She became certified in Ayres’ sensory integration theory and the Bobath concept of neurodevelopment and also earned a master’s degree in special education before joining the OT faculty at Western Michigan University.

Professor Edwards enjoyed an international and national reputation for her clinical research primarily in the area of pediatrics and interdisciplinary health care. She received the CHHS Faculty Teaching Excellence Award in 2005. In 1996, she became a Fellow of the American Occupational Therapy Association (FAOTA) for creative activities, clinical practice, research and scholarly activities.

She taught numerous graduate and undergraduate courses for 32 years at WMU until she retired in 2006. Faculty, students and friends established the Sandra J. Edwards Scholarship in 2006, and later, she and her husband, Al Garcia, contributed to the Sandra J. Edwards Endowed Scholarship for occupational therapy students in 2009.

Professor Edwards will travel to Gainesville for an awards ceremony in September.