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University of South Florida · College of Behavioral & Community Sciences · Rehabilitation & Mental Health Counseling

Wright, Tennyson J., PhD, CRC

Wright, Tennyson J., PhD, CRC

Dr. Wright retired from the University in 2015.

Tennyson Wright, PhD,was the chair of the Department of Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling and the School of Social Work, College of Behavioral and Community Sciences, and a former Vice Provost of the University of South Florida. A Certified Rehabilitation Counselor,

Dr. Wright has the distinction of being a delegate to the 1977 White House Conference on Handicapped Individuals, which was the first White House Conference on issues of persons with disabilities.  At this conference, delegates were encouraged “to impact in new ways on State and local governments, the private sector and the Federal Government to bring greater independence, dignity and full participation into community life for all mentally and physically handicapped individuals.” This request has been the guiding mission for Dr. Wright’s research, education and training efforts, and administration of the Department of Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling and the School of Social Work.

Prior to coming to USF, Dr. Wright was director of Project Upward Bound and the Northeast Georgia Educational Opportunity Center at the University of Georgia Athens.  Dr. Wright has been co-principal investigator on a number of large grants from the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), U. S. Department of Education, in Washington, DC. These grants are to implement the RSA long-term training initiative to prepare rehabilitation counselors to serve ethnic minorities with disabilities. 

His early research focused on the professional preparation of rehabilitation counselors and differential employment specialist personnel across a variety of services programs and systems to better serve ethnic minorities with disabilities.  He recently examined student satisfaction post-graduation with the RMHC Department as to course content and preparation for professional employment.  This 40-year departmental survey built upon a previous survey conducted at the Department’s 25th year marker. 

Dr. Wright has been the recipient of a number of prestigious national awards attesting to his service, leadership, and commitment to rehabilitation education, professional practice, and multicultural issues.  He received the Mary E. Switzer Distinguished Fellow from the National Rehabilitation Association, the Sylvia Walker Multicultural Award, and the Yvonne Johnson National Leadership Award.  In addition, he has been recognized by the National Association of Multi-cultural Rehabilitation Concerns with the Virgie Winston-Smith Lifetime Achievement Award and the Commitment and Leadership Award and the President's Award for Leadership and Dedication.  He has also received the Service Award from the American Rehabilitation Counseling Association, and an Outstanding Service Award from the National Council on Disability.  

Selected Publications

Smith, T. J., Reid, J. A., Henry, R. G., Dixon, C. G., & Wright, T. (2013). Evaluating curricular influence on preparation for practice, career outcomes, and job satisfaction: Results from an alumni survey of a 40-year rehabilitation and mental health counseling program. Rehabilitation Research, Policy, and Education, 27(1), 43-57.  doi:10.1891/2168-6653.27.1.43.

Kelley, S. D. M., Dixon, C. G., Emener, W. G., Wright, T. J. (1999). Evaluation of career outcomes following graduate education in rehabilitation counseling: A 25-year retrospective study. Rehabilitation Education, 13(3), 249-260.

Dixon, C. G., Emener, W. G., Kelley, S. D. M., & Wright, T. J. (1999). Rehabilitation counselor education students’ career goal aspirations and development: A partial replication study.  Rehabilitation Education, 13(2), 143-152.

Wright, T.J., Martinez, Y. & Dixon, C. G. (1999). Minority consumers of independent living services: A pilot investigation. Journal of Rehabilitation, 65(2), 20-25.

Griffin Dixon, C., & Wright, T.J. (1996) Service delivery to African Americans with disabilities: How to best train rehabilitation professionals. Rehabilitation Education, 10(2&3), 139-150.

Wright, T.J., & Emener, W.G. (1989). Ethnic minorities with disabilities: An annotated bibliography of rehabilitation literature. Tampa, FL: University of South Florida.

Kelley, S.D.M., Emener, W. G., & Wright, T. J. (1995). An analysis of differential employment specialist personnel across four types of rehabilitation job placement programs. Journal of Rehabilitation Administration, 19(3), 185-194.

Wright, T.J. (1988). Enhancing the professional preparation of rehabilitation counselors for improved services to ethnic minorities with disabilities. Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling, 19(4), 4-10 [Special Issue].