Professor Participating In Pacific Exchange


ST. LOUIS — Barbara Parker, director of the rehabilitation counseling and rehabilitation services programs at Maryville University, knew that obtaining her doctorate in higher education leadership would be a long, grueling process that would pay off in the end. What she never anticipated, however, are the dividends she has received from her doctoral program so far.

In 2006, Parker was a unanimous choice to receive the Outstanding Ph.D. Candidate Award from the College of Education faculty at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where she is pursuing her doctorate. And now, she is one of six doctoral candidates who have been chosen to travel to Thailand as part of an exchange program organized by UMSL education professor Dr. Kent Farnsworth, who also serves as Parker’s academic adviser and chair of her dissertation committee.

“There is a special interest on the part of the Thais in the relationship between education and community development and Barbara’s interests, background and research lend themselves very well to this exchange,” Farnsworth said. “We think she will return from the experience a much stronger and more aware educational leader, and can make a great contribution to it!” The group will be at Thai University in Bangkok from December 8-22. Parker and her fellow doctoral students will share their dissertation research with Thai University faculty and graduate students. In October, a group of Thai University professors and students will visit UMSL for the same purpose, Farnsworth said.

Parker said she was stunned when she read the e-mail from Farnsworth, saying she had been chosen for the exchange program. “In fact, I read it once, thinking, oh, that’s a nice program, and then, I realized, oh, I’m going to be part of it,” she said with a laugh. Initially, Parker was hesitant to accept the invitation, given that the trip will coincide with the final weeks of Maryville’s fall semester, always a busy time for faculty and program directors. But she reconsidered after receiving encouragement from her boss, Charles Gulas, Ph.D., dean of the University’s School of Health Professions.

“Barbara continues to be a fine ambassador for Maryville through her academic and professional achievements,” Gulas said “She is the latest in a long line of Health Professions faculty members to be asked to travel overseas to present scholarly research.” Parker, who hopes to have her dissertation completed by Spring 2008, views the trip to Southeast Asia as personally exciting and professionally enriching. “I feel like I have a responsibility to not only the doctoral program but also to Maryville,” she commented.

Parker feels her participation in the exchange program ties in perfectly with the global vision of Maryville University President Mark Lombardi, Ph.D. “I think everywhere I travel, I provide people with knowledge about Maryville, about what a great university it is.” She also looks forward to sharing information about the fields of rehabilitation counseling and rehabilitation services with her Asian audiences.

Farnsworth believes academic exchange programs are necessary as the integration of economies and societies will only continue to grow. “We feel very strongly in our higher education leadership program that tomorrow’s college leaders will be preparing a generation of students for a completely integrated global economy – one in which if the U.S. is to compete effectively, every college graduate will need to be comfortable working with other peoples and cultures,” he said.

Maryville University, founded in 1872, is a private, coeducational institution offering approximately 50 undergraduate, seven master’s and two doctoral degree programs to 3,300 students. Ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of America’s Best Colleges in the Midwest, Maryville University prepares its students for successful and meaningful careers by offering programs that integrate liberal arts with professional studies.

Among Maryville’s most recent graduates, 94 percent are employed or attending graduate school. Approximately 15,000 alumni work and live in the St. Louis region.