University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Redesigning Lives Globally
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History

Since occupational therapy was introduced at USC as a baccalaureate program in 1942, the University of Southern California has established an unparalleled record of excellence in service to the profession of occupational therapy and the research discipline of occupational science. Today, the USC Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy is an internationally recognized leader in education, research and clinical practice, thanks in part to a legacy of innovation and leadership including the following:

  • USC inaugurated the nation’s first post-professional degree program in occupational therapy in 1947
  • USC established the nation’s first two-year, entry-level master’s degree in occupational therapy in 1962
  • USC created the world’s first doctoral program in occupational science in 1989
  • Welcoming world-renowned ethologist Jane Goodall as a distinguished adjunct professor and Stephen Hawking as a keynote speaker at the third Occupational Science Symposium in 1990
  • The landmark USC Well Elderly Study was the first occupational therapy research to be published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1997
  • U.S. News & World Report ranked USC No. 1 in the first national ranking of occupational therapy graduate educational programs in 1998, and today USC remains ranked No. 1 by U.S. News & World Report, holding the top spot for more years than all other educational programs combined
  • USC again made history by receiving the first naming endowment gift—the largest ever made to any occupational therapy program in the history of the field—in 2014
  • 4 Trojans have been elected President of the American Occupational Therapy Association
    • Wilma West MA ’46 (1961-64)
    • Florence Cromwell MA ’52 (1967-73)
    • Mary Foto BS ’66 (1995-98)
    • Florence Clark (Faculty) (2010-13)
  • 15 Trojans have received the AOTA Eleanor Clarke Slagle Award, the profession’s most prestigious academic recognition
    • Margaret S. Rood (Faculty) (1958)
    • Mary Reilly BS ’51 (1961)
    • A. Jean Ayres BS ’45 MA ’54 (1963)
    • Elizabeth June Yerxa BS ’52 MA ’53 (1966)
    • Wilma L. West MA ’46 (1967)
    • Lela A. Llorens (Faculty) (1969)
    • A. Joy Huss Cert. ’58 (1976)
    • L. Irene Hollis Cert. ’44 (1979)
    • Joan C. Rogers MA ’68 (1983)
    • Claudia Kay Allen (Faculty) (1987)
    • Anne Henderson BS ’46 (1988)
    • Florence A. Clark (Faculty) (1993)
    • Catherine Anne Trombly MA ’64 (1995)
    • Ruth Zemke (Faculty) (2004)
    • Janice Burke MA ’75 (2009)
  • 60 Trojans have been selected as Fellows of the American Occupational Therapy Association
  • 3 Trojans have been elected President of the Occupational Therapy Association of California
    • Melissa Szamet BS ’68 (2002-04)
    • Shawn Phipps BS ’97 (2008-12)
    • Patricia Nagaishi MA ’80 (2012-14)
  • A. Jean Ayres’ influential theory and practice of Sensory Integration took root at USC
  • The Lifestyle Redesign® research-based occupational therapy intervention approach for promoting wellness and minimizing preventable illness was developed at USC

Timeline

View a timeline of highlights (PDF) spanning over seven decades of USC occupational science and occupational therapy.