June 06, 2011

National council honors Benshoff, Robertson

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- John J. Benshoff, director of the Rehabilitation Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, is the recipient of the 2011 Distinguished Career in Rehabilitation Award from the National Council on Rehabilitation Education (NCRE).
The award, in recognition of a lifetime of accomplishments in the field, came at NCRE’s annual conference recently in California. Also at the conference, Stacia L. Robertson, an associate professor in SIUC’s rehabilitation program, received the NCRE Rehabilitation Educator of the Year Award.
NCRE is the premier professional association for rehabilitation education professionals from all over the country. The organization honored Benshoff this year with the award for his extensive contributions and his many years of experience in the field of rehabilitation. He’s long been active in the organization, serving on the board and about a decade ago as president. But Benshoff is quick to say he’s part of a great SIUC team and all are important members.
“I don’t regard this as an individual award but rather an award recognizing the efforts of all of our faculty, staff and students. The plaque could have many names on it because there are a lot of people who work very hard to help assure the Rehabilitation Institute and its programs are of the highest qualify for our students and the University. As director of the Rehabilitation Institute, I literally have the best job on campus. We have great programs and students and our faculty and staff are very dedicated and truly care about the students and each other,” Benshoff said.
Benshoff’s affiliation with the University’s rehabilitation program is longstanding. He arrived at SIUC in 1988 as an assistant professor in rehabilitation administration and services. Since that time, he has also served as associate professor and director of studies in substance abuse counseling, also in the Rehabilitation Institute. Promoted to professor in 1999, he has also been coordinator of the rehabilitation counselor training program.
Since 2006, Benshoff has been director (initially interim director) of the Rehabilitation Institute. His career also includes experience as a hearing officer for the Illinois Office of Rehabilitation Services, consulting, and working in the rehabilitation and substance abuse fields in private practice and clinical settings.
Benshoff earned his doctorate in human rehabilitation at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colo., in 1987 and holds a master’s in rehabilitation counseling (1968) and a bachelor’s in biology (1967), both earned at the University of Pittsburgh.
Widely published in print and video media, Benshoff has numerous presentations and workshops to his credit. His research interests include rehabilitation, alcohol and substance abuse and rehabilitation counseling. Active in community and University service, he’s also been involved in various professional organizations, holding offices and winning numerous awards.
Robertson, NCRE’s rehabilitation educator of the year for 2011, teaches in the Rehabilitation Counselor Training program at the Rehabilitation Institute. The recipient of the Teacher of the Year award from both the Rehabilitation Institute and the College of Education and Human Services while an assistant professor, Robertson has extensive experience in the field of vocational rehabilitation, independent living and substance abuse counseling. Prior to joining the faculty at SIUC, her work focused primarily on substance abuse, personal counseling, vocational rehabilitation and independent living.
“Obtaining this NCRE award is a humbling experience. This award reflects the students and my fellow faculty in the Rehabilitation Institute. As an educator, I believe you have to be open to learning both from your colleagues and your students. During my tenure at SIUC, I have learned a great deal from my students and hope to pass this knowledge on to future students,” Robertson said.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in 1988 at Illinois State University, her master’s in 1995 at the University of Illinois and her doctorate at The Pennsylvania State University in 2003. She is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and has been active in regional and national rehabilitation organizations, including NCRE. She was the 2009-2010 president of the National Association of Multicultural Rehabilitation Concerns, serving also as guest editor on a special topics issue of the Rehabilitation Education Journal focusing on disability and diversity issues. Most recently, she served as one of the guest editors for the Journal of Disability Research and Practice.
Robertson’s research interests include rehabilitation counselor training and development, diversity issues and vocational rehabilitation. She is the author of several journal articles and book chapters and has conducted local, national and international presentations. A major focus in her research is issues of diversity and inclusion of persons with disabilities.
Benshoff’s Distinguished Career in Rehabilitation Education recognition and Robertson’s award speak well of both educators and also of SIUC’s Rehabilitation Institute, said Kenneth Teitelbaum, dean of the College of Education and Human Services, of which the institute is a component.