National OT professional association again honors WMU professors

Contact: Mark Schwerin

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University professors continue to win accolades from a national occupational therapy professional organization.

Drs. Diane Powers Dirette, a WMU professor of occupational therapy, and Amy Wagenfeld, who begins her duties at WMU in the spring semester as an assistant professor of occupational therapy, both will be inducted into the Roster of Fellows of the American Occupational Therapy Association at its annual conference in April 2016 in Chicago. Established in 1973, this award recognizes those members who, through their knowledge, expertise, leadership, advocacy or guidance have made a significant contribution over time to the profession with a measured impact on consumers of occupational therapy services and members of the association.

Dirette and Wagenfeld's induction comes a year after Dr. Debra Lindstrom, WMU professor of occupational therapy, was inducted in 2014.

Diane Dirette

Photo of Dr. Diane Dirette.


Dirette is being recognized for her significant contributions to the profession through scholarship, teaching and service to the profession by way of her work as editor-in-chief of the Open Journal of Occupational Therapy, which is published by the WMU Department of Occupational Therapy. Her main research interests focus on treatments for people with acquired brain injuries, for whom she developed a frame of reference titled Self-awareness Enhancement through Learning and Function, or SELF. Other areas of research include evidence-based practice, the use of compensatory strategies for cognitive deficits, Tai Chi for people with mental illness, and the use of grasp tests.

Most recently, Dirette co-founded the Open Journal of Occupational Therapy, the first open-access OT journal, after she identified the need for additional methods and platforms for scholarship dissemination in occupational therapy. The journal's mission is to publish high-quality articles that focus on applied research, practice and education in the occupational therapy profession.

"Dr. Dirette is one of the top scholars in the Department of Occupational Therapy as well as an outstanding educator," says Dr. Ben Atchison, department chair, adding that the Open Journal of Occupational Therapy has garnered national and international acclaim. "We are very proud of both her and Dr. Wagenfeld being named association fellows."

Amy Wagenfeld

Photo of Dr. Amy Wagenfeld.


Wagenfeld, a 1984 WMU graduate, is coming to WMU from Rush University, where she serves as an assistant professor of occupational therapy. She also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Washington and co-owns a therapeutic design consultation company called Environments for Well-Being.

The association is recognizing her for her expertise and scholarship in inter-professional, occupations-based therapeutic garden design across the lifespan. Wagenfeld holds specialty certification in environmental modifications through the American Occupational Therapy Association and Healthcare Garden Design through the Chicago Botanical Garden.

Her contributions span academic and clinical settings, as well as collaborations with architects and landscape architects. Her unique work focuses primarily on design, research, programming and evaluation of outdoor environments that support physical and emotional rehabilitation and learning in senior living, healthcare, community, correctional facility, military and educational settings. She also serves as a manuscript reviewer for the Open Journal of Occupational Therapy.

About the department

The WMU Department of Occupational Therapy was the first non-teacher education program at the University. Two of its programs, one on WMU's main campus in Kalamazoo and the other offered in downtown Grand Rapids, are consistently rated among the top 50 such graduate programs in the nation in U.S. News and World Report's Best Grad Schools rankings.

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