Sherrilene Classen named chair of occupational therapy
Sherrilene Classen, Ph.D., M.P.H., an internationally recognized scientist in driving rehabilitation, has been named chair of the PHHP department of occupational therapy.
She is currently a professor and director of the School of Occupational Therapy at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada. She begins her UF post on Jan. 2, succeeding William Mann, Ph.D., a distinguished professor and chair, who has retired.
In her research, Classen has focused on individuals’ fitness to drive, developing measurement tools, interventions and driving simulation programs for at-risk populations, including older adults, teens, adolescents with autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, returning combat veterans and people with neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. She is the lead developer of the Fitness-to-Drive Screening Measure, a free, online tool to help caregivers and family members identify drivers age 65 and older who may be at risk for driving problems.
Her work has been supported by about $6 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Transportation and international agencies. She is a Fellow of the American Occupational Therapy Association and the Gerontological Society of America. In 2012 she was inducted into the American Occupational Therapy Foundation’s Academy of Research, the organization’s highest scholarly honor.
“Dr. Classen is an outstanding researcher, educator and academic leader who will bring an abundance of experience, expertise and enthusiasm,” said Michael G. Perri, Ph.D., dean of the College of Public Health and Health Professions. “We are extremely fortunate to have a person of her talent to guide our OT department to new levels of achievement.”
Classen’s appointment brings her back to the UF, where she served as a member of the department of occupational therapy faculty from 2004 to 2013 and as the director of UF’s Institute for Mobility, Activity and Participation. She first joined the department as a postdoctoral researcher in 2002 after completing her doctoral degree in occupational therapy at Nova Southeastern University. She also earned a master’s degree in public health from PHHP.
“UF’s occupational therapy department, in my opinion, is standing on the shoulders of giants,” Classen said. “The previous chairs, Alice Jantzen, Lela Llorens, Kay Walker and Bill Mann, are highly revered in occupational therapy circles. They are clinicians, theorists, scholars and/or researchers who have contributed richly to occupational therapy in the United States, and beyond. It’s an honor to join this cadre of leaders to continue building the legacy of the occupational therapy department at UF.”