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University of Iowa News Release

March 24, 2004

UW-Madison Education Division Gives Tarvydas Highest Alumni Award

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has given Vilia Tarvydas, a professor in the University of Iowa College of Education's Department of Counseling, Rehabilitation, and Student Development, the George N. Wright Varsity Award, the highest honor bestowed on its alumni.

"The award is given to one of the outstanding UW-Madison graduates in terms of service, research and teaching contribution to rehabilitation counseling and rehabilitation psychology," said David Rosenthal, an assistant professor at UW-Madison's Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education and chair of the committee that selected the award's recipient. "There have only been 12 recipients of the award throughout the years. Vilia is an outstanding candidate and well-deserving of it, having demonstrated that she is a leader in the field."

Said Tarvydas, "I am very touched and honored to receive the George N. Wright Varsity Award. This award is symbolic of a legacy of excellence and leadership that has always epitomized the University of Wisconsin program and the legendary scholars, headed by George N. Wright, who have led our profession. I only hope that I can continue to be worthy of this honor in my own contributions to the profession."

Tarvydas received her Ph.D. in rehabilitation psychology from UW-Madison in 1987 and worked as a lecturer in UW-Madison's Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education from 1990 to 1991, when she joined the UI. Additionally, she is a licensed psychologist in the state of Wisconsin and a licensed mental health counselor in the state of Iowa.

She holds a master of science degree in rehabilitation counseling from UW-Milwaukee and a bachelor of arts degree in sociology from Northwestern University.

At the UI Tarvydas served as an assistant professor and program coordinator in rehabilitation psychology and counseling from 1991 to 1996, when she was named associate professor and coordinator of graduate programs in rehabilitation. In 2002 she was named a full professor.

Her research interests include ethics governance, ethical decision-making, and professional standards.

Tarvydas has published widely, as author or co-author of many books and articles, including (with R.R. Cottone) "Ethical And Professional Issues In Counseling", whose third edition is in preparation, and (with Christine Malaski) "Teaching ethics and the ethics of teaching: Challenges for rehabilitation counselor educators" in 2002 in the journal Rehabilitation Education.

Currently in press is an article (coauthored by M.J. Leahy and J.L. Saunders) titled "A comparison of the ethical beliefs of Certified Rehabilitation Counselors and National Certified Counselors" in the Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin. In 2003 Tarvydas authored the article "The ethical imperative for culturally competent practice" for Rehabilitation Education. And this month Counseling Today published an article coauthored by Tarvydas and Malaski titled "Speaking out for social concerns: Clients prefer counselors committed to advocacy, outreach: Let Code of Ethics guide actions."

Earlier this year Tarvydas was awarded a five-year, $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help with the hiring and retention of rehabilitation counselors in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri. Much of the money will be used to cover the cost of in-state tuition and provide stipends each year of the grant for up to 15 students in the UI's rehabilitation counseling master's program.

Tarvydas chaired the committee that developed Code of Ethics for Professional Rehabilitation Counselors and was involved in its most recent 2001 revision. She has chaired, as well, several ethics committees in medical facilities and for the profession including the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification's Ethics Committee.

Currently, she is chair of the Iowa State Board of Behavioral Science Examiners and chair of its Disciplinary Committee. She is the current president of the National Council on Rehabilitation Education and a member of the Ethics Committee and Ethics Code Revision Taskforce for the American Counseling Association. Together with several prominent authorities she is in the process of forming the UI Institute for Ethics in Disability Policy and Rehabilitation Practice. This institute is intended to provide research, education and consultation on ethical issues that affect people with disabilities and the rehabilitation services in which they participate.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Media: Stephen Pradarelli, 319-384-0007,