University of Southern California
University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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USC Chan Occupational Science Symposium | About the Symposium

The USC Occupational Science Symposium is the USC Chan Division’s premier academic event at which scholars, leaders and practitioners from various health, medical and social science professions and disciplines gather to enhance the scholarship of the occupational science. Established at the University of Southern California in 1988 as a forum to disseminate and celebrate the then-emerging academic discipline of occupational science, the Symposium is the Chan Division’s longest-running academic event.

Notable past speakers at the USC Occupational Science Symposium include former USC and National Football League quarterback, author and advocate for persons with autism spectrum disorders Rodney Peete, primatologist, ethologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall, theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking, and neuroscientist and scientific philosopher Antonio Damasio.

Wilma West Lecture

At the USC Occupational Science Symposium, the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy recognizes a scholar’s distinguished contributions to occupational therapy and occupational science with the Wilma West Lecture Award.

Wilma West MA ’48 was an undisputed leader in the profession of occupational therapy. During the Second World War she held the senior rank of Major in the Army Medical Specialist Corps. In 1948 at USC she became the first person in the country to receive a graduate degree focused on occupational therapy, with her thesis entitled “A Proposed Kinesiology Syllabus for Occupational Therapy Based on an Analysis of Requirements of the Profession.” After graduating from USC, she became the first occupational therapist to be executive director of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) in 1948 and held the position until 1951. From 1961 to 1964 she served as AOTA President. In 1967, she received the Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lectureship, AOTA’s highest academic award, and delivered her lecture entitled “Professional Responsibility in Times of Change.” She was a founder of the American Occupational Therapy Foundation and its President from 1972 to 1982.

The Wilma L. West Library, the American Occupational Therapy Foundation’s (AOTF) extensive collection of resources including monographs, journals, dissertations, theses, conference proceedings and multimedia, is named in her honor. The AOTA and AOTF Presidents’ Commendation in Honor of Wilma L. West, established jointly by the organizations’ governing boards, is a rarefied award named in her honor given to respected leaders of the profession who have made sustained lifetime contributions to the profession.