Sept. 17, 2001

CONTACT: Ward Mullens






YPSILANTI - Eastern Michigan University will celebrate the 60th anniversary of its occupational therapy program with an alumni luncheon and a tour of the Everett L. Marshall Health and Human Services Building Sept. 22.

Approximately 1,500 alumni who earned occupational therapy degrees from EMU have been invited to the luncheon, which is scheduled from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the atrium area of the Marshall building.

  "I'm excited about this event," said Elizabeth Francis-Connolly, program director for occupational therapy.  "It is an opportunity to showcase the tradition of academic excellence in occupational therapy education at EMU."

Alumni from the program's first decade will be honored; a slide show depicting the history of the occupational therapy program will be presented; and occupational therapy classrooms will be dedicated in honor of Frances Herrick-Swailes, the program's occupational director from 1950-75. Herrick-Swailes will attend, said Francis-Connolly. EMU President Samuel A. Kirkpatrick will provide opening remarks.

The origins of occupational therapy began post-World War I to help returning veterans to reacclimate to civilian life and heal from war injuries.

"When people were engaged in meaningful activities, they tended to get well faster and feel good about themselves," Francis-Connolly said.

"As medical technology advanced, the role of occupational therapy changed.

 People live longer today, babies who are born premature live and people who suffer traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries survive. These people did not survive 10-15 years ago."

The role of occupational therapy has also gradually moved from hospital-based care to community settings, including home health care, assisted living facilities and community mental health.

EMU's occupational therapy program currently boasts more than 200 students in undergraduate, basic master's and advanced master's programs. For more information, call Francis-Connolly at 487-3220.

Eastern Michigan University ( is a four-year, comprehensive metropolitan university committed to the needs of its students and communities through teaching, research and service. EMU offers more than 200 programs in the arts, sciences and professionals through traditional classroom settings, on-site continuing education classes and on-line courses. EMU is the fifth largest university in Michigan, serving 24,000 students from around the world and offers undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate programs.