Nancy Bagatell Named Director of Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

The Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy has selected Nancy Bagatell, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, as its new director effective July 1, 2017.

Nancy Bagatell Named Director of Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy click to enlarge Nancy Bagatell, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

The UNC School of Medicine Department of Allied Health Sciences has named Nancy Bagatell, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, as the incoming director of the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. She will assume the role on July 1, 2017.

“I am excited to continue to work with such devoted faculty and talented students who will become the next generation of occupational therapists and occupational scientists,” Bagatell said of the appointment.

“I am humbled to take this role and to follow in the footsteps of our former program directors, all of whom are visionary leaders in the field of occupational therapy and occupational science.”

Bagatell joined the division in fall 2013 after working in a number of clinical and academic settings. As a clinician, she has worked primarily with individuals who have autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities. Her work spans schools, homes, and community settings. In particular, she is interested in issues related to adolescence, transitioning to adulthood, and creating meaningful adult lives through engagement in occupation.

As an occupational scientist, Bagatell’s interests include how sociocultural, contextual, and political phenomenon support engagement in everyday occupation and exploring methods that best capture the complexity of occupation. 

As an associate professor, Bagatell teaches a variety of courses for both occupational therapy master’s students and PhD students. Her current research projects include two studies exploring the transition experiences of adolescents and young adults with cerebral palsy and autism spectrum disorders; a study investigating novel measures to measure community integration for adults with cerebral palsy; and a study exploring the experiences of caregivers of adults with autism spectrum disorders in middle age. Her research involves interdisciplinary collaboration with faculty from the Division of Physical Therapy, Division of Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling, and the TEACCH research lab.

Bagatell has taught in occupational therapy programs for more than 20 years, including her role as a faculty member at the University of Southern California. Her educational philosophy is influenced by ideas of constructivist education and adult learning theories, including that learning occurs through doing, problem solving, dialoguing about ideas, and having real-life experiences.  

She received her PhD in occupational science and master’s in occupational therapy from the University of Southern California. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in music performance from Indiana University. Stephen Hooper, PhD and associate dean and chair of the Department of Allied Health Sciences, stated: “We are extremely fortunate to have Dr. Bagatell take over the leadership of this nationally ranked program in occupational therapy and occupational science. I am confident that she will continue to keep this program one of the best in the country and, in fact, advance it to even higher levels of acclaim. We look forward to her leadership.”

The Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy launched in 1978 as one of the profession’s first entry-level master’s programs, under the direction of Marlys Mitchell, PhD. In 2006, the program welcomed its first class of occupational science doctoral students. Ruth Humphry, who has served as division director for the past five years, developed the PhD program. Humphry will retire in July 2017 after more than 30 years of dedicated service to the program. 

“We are truly appreciative of the longstanding dedication of Dr. Humphry to the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy as a faculty member and a leader of this program. It is through her efforts that this program has remained one of the best in the country," Hooper said.

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