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Professor Emeritus Martha Ferretti, PT, MPH, FAPTA, Receives 2023 Regents’ Alumni Award

Published: Wednesday, December 13, 2023

The University of Oklahoma recognized the 2023 Regents’ Alumni Award recipients during a ceremony on Sept. 29 on the OU Norman campus. Regents’ Alumni Award honorees are chosen for their extraordinary dedication and service to the university.

Presented by the OU Board of Regents and OU Alumni Association, the award celebrates the profound way OU alumni and supporters shape the university’s vibrant future. A committee formed by the Alumni Association reviews nominations submitted by alumni, friends and OU faculty and staff to select each year’s awardees. The recipients receive a commemorative plaque in recognition of their exceptional contributions, and their names are permanently inscribed on a plaque displayed in the historic Oklahoma Memorial Union.

We are excited to share that one of this year’s recipients is College of Allied Health Professor Emeritus Martha Ferretti, PT, MPH, FAPTA. As an educator, administrator and visionary, she served the OU College of Allied Health Department of Rehabilitation Sciences for over 40 years. The College of Allied Health prospered and became nationally recognized in large part because of her progressive leadership in education and the inclusion of contemporary research to seek new treatments and validate practice.

Professor Ferretti has spent decades as a creative and visionary leader, working tirelessly to improve local, regional and national awareness of the many accomplishments of OU and the College of Allied Health. Through her involvement in university leadership, education and service, Ferretti was able to skillfully bring together like-minded faculty, alumni, students and community members to accomplish important and lasting initiatives.

Professor Ferretti’s impact at the University was not just confined to the field of Physical Therapy. She was integral to the College of Allied Health’s philanthropic efforts, and built relationships with alumni and friends that will benefit the college for years to come. Even now after her retirement, she supports fundraising efforts through her own personal giving and by connecting college representatives with individuals who have an interest in supporting the University. She has never stopped advocating for the College of Allied Health.

In addition to her national advocacy, Professor Ferretti championed many activities and initiatives that enhance the University’s reputation at the state level. In 1991, she received appointment as the Director of the Division of Rehabilitation Sciences for the baccalaureate programs in occupational and physical therapy. She looked to the future and realized that the constantly expanding volume of knowledge and depth of reasoning required for evidence-based practice required additional education. Under her guidance, faculty worked together to develop discipline-specific professional post-baccalaureate programs with intentional coordination of shared content. This innovation resulted in approval to begin post-graduate education in physical and occupational therapy. To address the lack of access to physical and occupational therapy services in the northeastern part of Oklahoma, she obtained approval to start a Tulsa cohort of students. By 1998, her forward thinking had created the first opportunities to obtain a physical or occupational therapy degree in that part of the state. Her efforts placed OUHSC at the forefront of integrating interprofessional education into two rehabilitation curriculums across two campuses which created a model for other programs across the nation to follow.

A lifetime of practice as a physical therapist heightened her awareness of the needs of the citizens of Oklahoma. Her service activities on behalf of the University and the state of Oklahoma focused in the area of persons with developmental disabilities. While serving as the Chair of the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, she encouraged scholarly efforts that obtained nearly $25 million in contracts, grants, and research endeavors that focused on the needs of persons with disabilities.

“I am extremely proud that the OU Board of Regents chose to honor Professor Emeritus Martha Ferretti with the University of Oklahoma Regents' Alumni Award. Her dedication to teaching, research, and service has made a significant impact on the field of rehabilitation sciences and the lives of individuals with disabilities. She has represented the University of Oklahoma well, and exhibits a spirit of community and commitment to excellence that demonstrates the University’s highest values,” said Dr. Jane Wilson, Dean of the College of Allied Health.

Congratulations, Professor Emeritus Ferretti!

Other recipients include John T. Argo, Monica Basu, Jarrod Calhoun, Michael S. Cookson, M.D., Chuck and Mary Ellen Doyle, Frank Hill, Kirk Alan Jones, Louis Don Smitherman and Bruce Wilkinson.