Karen Abraham, Ph.D., has been named Shenandoah University’s interim dean of the School of Health Professions. She will begin her new position on January 3, 2017, and will serve through the 2017-18 academic year.
Dr. Abraham currently serves as the university’s fellow for academic excellence and professor of physical therapy at Shenandoah University, previously served as director of the university’s Division of Physical Therapy from 2008 to 2015, and has been a member of the faculty since 2001.
“Although this is an interim appointment, it is far from a caretaker position,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs Adrienne Bloss, Ph.D. “Karen has extensive administrative experience at the division, school, and university levels, and she will have full authority to provide forward-looking leadership for both internal and external activities. I look forward to seeing Karen excel in this new role.”
Abraham succeeds Timothy Ford, Ph.D., the university’s first dean of the School of Health Professions, who moves on to serve as chair of environmental health sciences in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
“I am very excited for the opportunity to lead the School of Health Professions, and its very talented group of faculty, staff and students, as the interim dean,” said Abraham. “I hope to build on the foundation laid by Dr. Ford, and look forward to building new relationships at Shenandoah and within the region to benefit the the School of Health Professions. There are many exciting initiatives within the school, such as new programs in public health and the continued growth of interprofessional education. Shenandoah has been an incredible place for me to grow personally and professionally, and I look forward to this new challenge and new way to serve the university.”
Abraham is by training an orthopedic therapist with a special interest in women’s health issues. She has used her background in basic science and pain research as a foundation for her current research projects in women’s health physical therapy.
She has been a member of the Section on Women’s Health of the American Physical Therapy Association APTA since 1996, and has served as a member of many of the section’s task forces and as an investigator in several grant-funded studies. In February 2015, she was awarded the section’s highest honor, the Elizabeth Noble Award. She is also a Virginia State APTA Delegate.
Abraham has served on the Specialization Task Force of the Section on Women’s Health of the APTA, the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) Specialty Council for Women’s Health Specialty Certification, and on the review boards of the Physical Therapy Journal (journal of the APTA), Spinal Cord, and Anatomical Sciences Education. She is an associate editor and reviewer for the Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy.
She has brought physical therapy advocacy to a global community, serving as an ambassador for physical therapy to Haiti, India, the Philippines and Nicaragua.
Abraham holds a bachelor of science degree in physical therapy from the University of Maryland at Baltimore and a Ph.D. in anatomy and cell biology from the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. She has completed the Education Leadership Institute Fellowship of the APTA.
The university anticipates launching a national search for the dean of the School of Health Professions position in the fall of 2017.