Rehabilitation Counseling Professors Win $1 Million Training Grant

November 3, 2014

Dr. Jill Meyer
Dr. Jill Meyer

The Rehabilitation Counseling program in the College of Education’s Department of Special Education, Rehabilitation and Counseling has just been awarded a long-term training grant from the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) to increase the number of Vocational Rehabilitation counselors. These counselors will fill unmet needs in state, private, and not-for-profit rehabilitation systems. The grant will provide Auburn with $1 million over the course of five years. The project’s Primary Investigator is Dr. Jill Meyer.

“This grant award represents a collaborative effort among all of our Rehab faculty,” Meyer said. “In addition to me, the training will be carried out by Dr. Becky Curtis, Dr. Lee Ann Alderman, Dr. Nick Derzis, and Ms. Christine Fleming, who directs the Center for Disability Research and Service here on campus.”

Meyer said the Department has a long history of winning RSA awards to provide counselor education in rehabilitation.

“Our last long-term training grant only expired this summer, so we were very pleased to be able to continue these important training efforts,” Meyer said. “This grant gives us a great recruiting opportunity to provide an excellent education for professionals to serve individuals with a disability.”

Auburn University’s Rehabilitation Counseling graduate programs are widely considered to be among the best in the country.

“The goal of Vocational Rehabilitation is to place people with disabilities into meaningful, competitive employment,” Meyer said. “Our scholars will come to us from other universities, as well as from the state’s own VR system, and we will ultimately provide tuition and a stipend for approximately 31 students who will obtain their master’s degree in VR Counseling.”

The grant has four main objectives:

– enhance rehabilitation counselors’ ability to provide quality services regardless of prevailing economic conditions;

– train professionals who can translate the concepts of effectiveness and efficiency within  the context of individualized service delivery;

– develop rehabilitation counselors who have the ability to create effective consumer designed and focused service delivery options; and

– develop within rehabilitation counselors the ability to leverage resources that benefit consumers and their families.

Meyer’s own interest in rehabilitation came from her personal experiences. She has a few family members with a disability, and her mother always demonstrated good examples of inclusion and acceptance of others.

The two-year full-time program will entail 63 semester hours. Although a few of the students are already on campus, Meyer said the majority of the scholars will begin classes in January.

“As we stated in our proposal to the RSA, our goal is to graduate highly qualified master’s level rehabilitation counselors with the knowledge, skills, and resources to efficiently and effectively serve individuals with disabilities. We feel very good about our ability to do just that.”

Story and photo by George Littleton