Barbara Rider, Ph.D., OT, FAOTA
Barbara Rider, Ph.D., OT, FAOTA is a professor emeritus from Western Michigan University (WMU). Dr. Rider received her Bachelor's Degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She received a Master's Degree in Special Education from the University of Kansas, and a doctorate in Educational Administration from the University of Michigan. Dr. Rider’s early career included clinical practice in the Veteran’s Administration Hospital and in a specialized school for children with disabilities. In addition, she produced foundational research in the areas of sensory integration and developmental reflexes. She served as chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy at WMU from 1976-1986. It was during this time that she reflected on the value of her prior research and instilled this value of research into the WMU occupational therapy faculty members. She was among the first occupational therapists to prioritize research as a part of education and practice, and she required faculty members to participate in scholarship and higher education activities.
As her career moved forward, Dr. Rider continued to practice, educate, research, lead, and invest in the advancement of the occupational therapy profession. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) honored Dr. Rider in 2003 with the Lindy Boggs Award, recognizing her many contributions to the profession. Since her retirement in 1991, she continues to publish, educate, and practice occupational therapy with children and adults who have developmental disabilities and mental health disorders.
Additionally, Dr. Rider is active in her community, serving two elected terms and one appointed term as Kalamazoo County Commissioner. She served many years on the Board of Kalamazoo County Department of Human Services and also served as chair of this board for five years. Active in many human service boards and committees over the years, Dr. Rider also serves on the board of the Shepherd’s Center of Kalamazoo.