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Former Director of Federal Disability Agency is Appointed Associate Dean at University of Pittsburgh’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

PITTSBURGH, April 17, 2001 — Noted disability policy expert Katherine D. Seelman, Ph.D., has been appointed associate dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS). Formerly director of the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), a division of the United States Department of Education, Dr. Seelman has worked in the domestic and international policy arena for more than 20 years. She is recognized as an international leader on issues of rehabilitation and disabilities.

“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Seelman to the University of Pittsburgh,” said Clifford E. Brubaker, Ph.D., SHRS dean. “Through her work nationally and internationally she has brought a new awareness of non-traditional disability populations and has promoted the visibility of rehabilitation science and disability studies. We are very happy to have her aboard.”

“The University of Pittsburgh, and especially the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, is an internationally recognized leader and innovator,” Dr. Seelman said. “I am pleased and honored to join the SHRS administration and faculty in a shared commitment to improving the lives of disabled people through rehabilitation science and disability studies.”

During her tenure as director of the NIDRR, which is the largest rehabilitation research agency in the federal government, Dr. Seelman coordinated disability research, particularly in applications of rehabilitation technology to advance the independence of people with disabilities. Under her leadership, the NIDRR supported a broad range of technology and medical rehabilitation initiatives, including the first telerehabilitation research engineering center in the United States.

An outspoken advocate for the disabled, Dr. Seelman is a member of numerous committees of the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, including the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research. She chaired the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) Committee on International Competition in Microelectronics and has served on other OTA committees.

Dr. Seelman has represented the United States in many international initiatives, including participation in first national delegation under the U.S.-European Union Science and Technology Agreement. She also co-chaired the Research Committee for the 1996 Paralympic Games in Atlanta and the U.S.–Japan Common Agenda steering committee in educational and assistive technology. She has represented the United States in other international forums in India, Israel, New Zealand, Spain and the Republic of China.

Before assuming her post at the NIDRR, Dr. Seelman, who is hard of hearing, held leadership positions at the National Council on Disability, the Administration on Developmental Disabilities and the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Her research is in the areas of science, technology and public policy, with a focus in telecommunications and accessibility. She is an editor and chapter author in the newly published textbook "Handbook of Disability Studies."

During her career, Dr. Seelman has received numerous awards including the Gold Key Award from the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine, the Distinguished Public Service Award from the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, the Outstanding Public Service Award from the Association of Academic Physiatrists, and recognition as an honorary fellow in the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America.

Dr. Seelman earned her M.A. and her Ph.D. from New York University, and her B.A. from Hunter College. She is certified in community organizing from Midwest Academy, Chicago, and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, Little Rock.

SHRS offers academic training programs for entry-level and advanced education in health and rehabilitation professions, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, rehabilitation science and technology, communication science and disorders, sports medicine, athletic training, clinical dietetics and nutrition, emergency medicine, health information management, and administration and supervision in health care institutions. These programs educate professionals and leaders who are fully prepared to offer high-quality, effective health care in these specialties and to conduct research aimed at restoring and sustaining health, function and quality of life. SHRS has major research interests in wheelchair mobility and improved technology and rehabilitation for people with long-term disabilities. For more information, please access

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