The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) has announced the appointment of Neil Harvison, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, (pictured right) to the newly created position of chief academic and scientific affairs officer. In his new role, Harvison, former AOTA director of accreditation and academic affairs, will lead a newly constituted Division of Academic and Scientific Affairs with responsibility for providing direction to the accreditation, education, research activities of AOTA.
While assisting in the day-to-day leadership and management of the new Academic and Scientific Affairs Division, Harvison will be tasked with staff liaison support for the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE), AOTA’s Commission on Education, and the joint Research Advisory Panel, a collaborative project between AOTA and the American Occupational Therapy Foundation. The AOTA adds that Harvison will also oversee the development of relationships with external organizations related to higher education, accreditation, and research, and serve as a member of the Association’s executive management team.
In light of Harvison’s appointment, Fred Somers, AOTA executive director, emphasizes the complex pressures that face higher education and impact occupational therapy education. Somers singles out research as a critical area of “strategic importance to the profession in a rapidly changing health care system. I believe it is imperative to align our national office structure in a way that elevates and sharpens our focus on the priority work we must do in these critical areas to assist our leadership in developing successful strategies for navigating change,” Somers says.
Harvison echoes Somers’ sentiments, highlighting the “unprecedented growth in occupational therapy as we respond to the growing needs of society. As demand increases it’s essential that we maintain our high research and education standards while anticipating and quickly responding to changes in the health care environment.”