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University of Iowa News Release


April 25, 2007

Teahen To Discuss Aftermath Of Disasters At Reunion, Reception April 27

Half a century has passed since John Muthard, a University of Iowa professor, established the Rehabilitation Counseling Program, the first west of the Mississippi.

To recognize this milestone and the importance of this profession, the UI Rehabilitation Counseling Program in the College of Education will host a 50th anniversary spring colloquium, awards, and gala reunion reception Friday, April 27 at the UI Old Capitol Museum. The afternoon begins with guided tours of the Old Capitol Museum from noon to 2 p.m. that are free and open to the public.

Peter R. Teahen (left) will give a keynote address at approximately 2:30 p.m. titled "Picking Up the Pieces: The Aftermath of Disasters." Teahen, a media spokesperson on domestic and international disasters and a government liaison officer for the American Red Cross, has just returned from a trip to Darfur. He is also a recipient of the National Public Spirit Award.

Teahen will discuss how the general population and responders are impacted by disasters during both the response and recovery phases. Vilia Tarvydas, a professor in the UI Rehabilitation Counseling Program and one of the event's organizers, said attendees will hear how agencies have helped survivors of such catastrophes as the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the 2004 Sri Lanka tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, and how they're preparing to deal with potential pandemic outbreaks such as the Avian flu.

The topic is especially timely, Tarvydas said, because of last week's shootings at Virginia Tech University and other recent human-caused and natural disasters that impact the nation and world.

"I encourage the public to attend this event because they will discover information about a group of professionals who work very hard to help people and who are well trained to deal with emotional, sensory, physical and cognitive disabilities," Tarvydas said, "They (rehabilitation counselors) are a tremendous source of information and expertise when people run into problems."

Teahen is also a funeral director and a certified traumatologist. He is president of Teahen Funeral Home in Cedar Rapids, and president and founder of the International Mass Fatalities Center. Teahen's extensive volunteer involvement in the Cedar Rapids area includes being the founder of the Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival.  He has been interviewed on such programs as "Larry King Live," "Good Morning America," "The Weather Channel," "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and many others. He has responded to 35 major disasters, in Puerto Rico, Guam, Sri Lanka and throughout the United States. He is also recognized for his work on aviation disasters and is internationally known for his work in critical incident stress management.

In addition to Teahen's address, an awards presentation and colloquium will be held from 2 to 4:30 p.m. A reunion reception will follow until 7 p.m. for College of Education alumni and friends.

Tarvydas said that the Rehabilitation Counseling Program has a distinguished history of firsts. In fact, Tarvydas chairs the committee that created the first unified Code of Professional Ethics for Rehabilitation Counselors in 1992, and its revisions in 2001 and 2007. As one of the American Association of State Counseling Boards founding members, she is the first rehabilitation counselor to be elected president elect of the organization.

Some of the program's other firsts include the following:

-- Muthard and Paul Salomone, a UI alumnus who received his master's degree in 1962 and a doctorate in 1968, co-authored the first role and function studies and began the line of research that defines the profession;

-- Marceline Jaques was the nation's first woman to receive a doctoral degree in rehabilitation counselor education in 1959;

-- C. Esco Obermann, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1927, a master's degree in 1931 and a doctorate in 1938, chaired the National Rehabilitation Counseling Association's Ethics Committee and wrote the profession's first code of ethics;

-- In 2003, the program established the nation's first student chapter of the American Rehabilitation Counseling Association;

-- The program received the American Rehabilitation Counseling Association's 1997 President's Award for Exemplary Education Programs;

-- Since 2000, the program has ranked third in the nation among public universities by the U.S.News & World Report "America's Best Graduate Schools" and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Tarvydas said she is proud of the long history of faculty and graduates holding leadership positions in professional organizations.

"Our faculty, graduates and students have been presidents and chairs of the major professional organizations and credentialing bodies over the years in most impressive numbers," Tarvydas said. "As a result, we are seen as a locus of leadership and innovation in the field."

For more information or special accommodations to attend any of the day's events, contact: Tarvydas at 319-335-5285 or by e-mail at

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

CONTACTS: Media: Lois J. Gray, 319-384-0077,; Program: Vilia Tarvydas 319-335-5285 Writers: Heather Spangler and Lois J. Gray.