Decker College welcomes rehab therapies program directors, staff
Founding directors for degree programs in physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech-language pathology joined Binghamton University’s Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences in recent months.
Decker College comprises the Decker School of Nursing (established in 1969), as well as the School of Rehabilitation Sciences and the School of Applied Health Sciences (both established in 2019).
The new faculty and staff — Jane Bear-Lehman, Michael Buck, Rodney Gabel and Kristen Mooney— are part of the School of Rehabilitation Sciences. They join Nicolle Nestler, who came to Binghamton University in November 2019 as administrative assistant for both Decker’s School of Rehabilitation Sciences and its Master of Public Health program. She holds an MPH from the University of Pittsburgh and a bachelor’s degree from Millersville University of Pennsylvania.
Speaking of founding directors Bear-Lehman, Buck and Gabel, Mario R. Ortiz, dean and professor of nursing, Decker College, said, “Their broad expertise, particularly in developing new programs, as well as their research and clinical experience will help position Decker College as a national and international leader in health sciences education, research and practice.”
Binghamton University intends to offer programs leading to a:
- Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree
- Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) Entry-Level Professional degree
- Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) Post-Professional degree
- Master’s degree in speech-language pathology
- Undergraduate minor in speech-language pathology
All the proposed programs, with the exception of the minor, are in various stages of review on campus or with the State University of New York or the New York State Education Department.
The undergraduate minor in speech-language pathology was approved by Binghamton University leadership (no other approval is required for a minor), and Decker expects to begin offering the program in fall 2021. The University hopes to welcome a first cohort of physical therapy students in 2024; occupational therapy students in 2021 for the post-graduate program and 2025 for the entry-level program; and speech-language pathology master’s students in 2024.
“By expanding our academic programming into rehabilitation and health sciences, Decker is laying a foundation for the future,” Ortiz said. “At the same time, we will be helping to meet community needs for allied health professionals, which will only continue to increase as the population ages.”
New faculty and staff are presented by academic division.
Michael Buck, PhD, PT, ATC, Cert MDT, CSCS, joined Decker College in July 2019 as founding director and associate professor in the Division of Physical Therapy.
Buck came to Binghamton University from Ithaca College, where he spent 27 years in a variety of roles including coordinator of Ithaca’s First Year Seminar program, faculty trustee to the Board of Trustees, acting associate dean of the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance, and most recently as director and chair of the physical therapy program.
He holds a PhD in educational leadership from Trident University, a master’s degree in physical therapy from Arcadia University and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Canisius College. Additionally, Buck is a certified athletic trainer and strength and conditioning specialist. He is certified in the McKenzie Method of mechanical diagnosis and therapy from the McKenzie Institute of America.
Kristen Mooney, PT, DPT, NCS, came to Decker College in February 2020, as director of clinical education and assistant professor in the Division of Physical Therapy.
Before joining the University, Mooney worked as a physical therapist in the Binghamton area for 18 years, specializing in the treatment of patients with neurologic diagnoses.
She holds a DPT degree from the University of Montana, a master’s degree in physical therapy from Ithaca College and a bachelor’s degree in clinical science from Ithaca College.
Mooney’s areas of interest include Parkinson’s disease, balance, and concussion and stroke rehabilitation. She frequently served as a clinical instructor and mentor to students, which drew her to the role at Decker College.
Jane Bear-Lehman, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, FNAP, joined Decker College in January 2020 as founding director and professor in the Division of Occupational Therapy.
In addition, Bear-Lehman serves as an adjunct faculty member in the New York University College of Dentistry Psychosocial Research Unit on Health, Aging and the Community and as a collaborator in the Stevens Institute of Technology Sensorimotor Control Laboratory. She previously held faculty and administrative positions in occupational therapy at private and public universities including New York University, Columbia University and the University of Toronto.
Bear-Lehman holds a PhD from the Steinhardt School, New York University; a master’s degree from the College of Allied Health Sciences, University of Illinois Chicago; and a bachelor’s degree from the School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison. All degrees are in occupational therapy.
Over the last two decades, she has continually served as a principal investigator, co-principal investigator or executive advisory board member on externally funded federal grants to address upper-limb potential and functional-performance measurements.
Bear-Lehman serves on several editorial review boards in addition to being an associate editor for the Journal of Interprofessional Education and Practice. She also has more than 85 referred and invited publications in peer-reviewed journals and textbooks.
In July 2020, Decker welcomed Rodney Gabel, PhD, CCC-SLP, as founding director and professor in the Division of Speech-Language Pathology.
Gabel has 20 years of experience in academia. Before joining Binghamton, he held positions at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Bowling Green State University and most recently, at the University of Toledo.
Throughout his career he has been an active researcher, publishing more than 75 articles and presenting more than 100 papers at professional conferences.
An expert in stuttering, Gabel formerly owned the Gabel Center for Stuttering Therapy, LLC, a private practice for people who stutter. Additionally, he has been an active clinician and member of the stuttering community. He sits on the board of the International Stuttering Association and served on several professional committees.
Gabel holds a doctorate in communications disorders from The Pennsylvania State University, a master’s degree in speech and language pathology from Bowling Green State University and a bachelor’s degree in communication disorders from Bowling Green State University.