Alumna Michele Kopolow (right) with a classmate (1971)

In 1974, Dr. Sven Eliasson, professor and vice chair of neurology at the School of Medicine, was appointed the associate medical director for the Irene Walter Johnson Institute for Rehabilitation and later, associate medical director of the Programs in Occupational and Physical Therapy.

Because of Eliasson’s unique expertise in arts and sciences and his holistic approach to healing, he actively promoted occupational and physical therapy. Eliasson believed strongly in rehabilitating individuals so that they could resume their lives and return to work as quickly as possible following a sickness or an accident.

Martha Matthews resigned as the program director in 1975, and Ellen Twining Tyson, assistant professor of occupational therapy and associate director of the Program, served as the acting director from 1975 to 1976. Matthews was named associate professor emeritus of occupational therapy and was awarded the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Award of Merit because of her leadership and contributions to the profession in 1977.

Jerry Johnson succeeded Matthews as Elias Michael Director in 1976. Under her guidance, a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) graduate degree was established in 1977. It provided advanced training in practice and research and necessitated the hiring of research-oriented faculty whose goal was to generate new scientific knowledge in the profession. Johnson conducted the first national occupational therapy research seminar and established the first 3-2 program with a partnering institution. Johnson was also responsible for starting a community service program, making additional resources available to students and increasing faculty research, student financial aid and alumni contributions. She served as president of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) from 1973 to 1978.