With dedicated faculty and leading-edge curricula, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is preparing counselors for meaningful, ethical and effective work.
From its accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs to the program's 100 percent pass rate on the 2014 National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification, the program continues to distinguish itself and prepare outstanding counselors who serve schools and communities.
The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents has taken notice and will award UW-Whitewater with its 2016 Teaching Excellence Award for academic programs and departments. The honor recognizes programs that demonstrate an exceptional commitment to teaching and learning.
Brenda Rust O'Beirne, associate professor of counselor education and chair of the Counselor Education Program, will accept the award on behalf of the program on June 10, at the June Board of Regents meeting in Milwaukee.
Established in 1967, the Counselor Education Program has prepared more than 1,370 professionally trained counselors, with the vast majority working in the state of Wisconsin. Seven faculty members, a lab manager and a half-time academic department associate support the program, which is housed in the university's College of Education and Professional Studies.
Lindsay Woodbridge, a 2015 graduate of the program who now serves as a health counselor at the UW Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention, spoke to the impact that the program and its faculty have had on her, both personally and professionally, in her letter in support of the award.
Woodbridge described an introductory counseling skills class in which she role-played with a peer while their instructor, assistant professor Jeff Cook, monitored the session remotely. When the classmate experienced a strong emotional reaction, Cook returned to the room to guide the student back to a place where she could continue to provide good care.
"This experience illustrates the combination of high-tech and high-touch that characterized my clinical learning," said Woodbridge. "The department recently implemented a state-of-the-art system for scheduling, recording, reviewing and documenting client sessions in its on-campus counseling lab. Jeff was making good use of this system, and yet also knew when to put down the headphones to make a direct, in-person intervention in our learning."
Maintaining a quality program and continuing to offer an excellent educational experience for students requires an ongoing focus on priorities that add the greatest value, according to Rust O'Beirne.
"Students are the center of all that we do," she said. "Through our teaching and supervising, we develop meaningful personal and professional relationships in a process that is truly transformative. This award is really a tribute to the excellent faculty, staff and students who do incredible teaching and learning and serving. We are all honored to receive this recognition."