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   Marriage & Family Therapy PhD Program

Program History

• 1975, Nancy Barkley, head of Department of Management, Housing, and Family Development, School of Home Economics, hires James Croake, professor of family therapy at Florida State, to develop family therapy courses.

• By 1979, family therapy master’s students start seeing first clients at Center for Family Services on Jackson Street.

• 1982, Marriage & Family Therapy Doctoral Program accredited by Commission on Accreditation for Marriage & Family Therapy Education; first graduates.

• Early 1980s, Center for Family Services moves to 1601 South Main in Blacksburg.   4 therapy rooms, 4 offices, & seminar room on second floor.

• 1991, program graduate ('91) Scott Johnson hired as fifth faculty member.

• 1993, founding Center & Program Director James Keller returns to full-time teaching; former Clinical Training Director Bud Protinsky becomes Center & Program Director.   Internship Coordinator Scott Johnson becomes Clinical Training Director. Over 2 thousand families, couples, and individuals served since inception.

• 1996, Founding Director, James Keller, and former Department Head Joe Maxwell, retire.   Anne Prouty hired from Purdue.

• 1997, Center relocates to 840 University City Boulevard in Blacksburg; changes name to Family Therapy Center of Virginia Tech.   Serves clients from eastern West Virginia down to North Carolina, eastward to Salem, and beyond in 60 mile radius.

• 2000, program faculty member and Department Head Mike Sporakowski, retires.  Fred Piercy, program director of the MFT PhD program at Purdue University, is hired as Human Development Department Head, and also teaches part-time in the program.

• 2001, Prouty moves to University of Rhode Island; Anna Beth Benningfield, one of two twice elected presidents of American Association for Marriage & Family Therapy, becomes Visiting Professor.

• 2002, Bud Protinsky retires.   Lenore McWey hired from Florida State.   Clinical Training Director Scott Johnson becomes Center & Program head; Benningfield takes over as Clinical Training Director.   Stephanie Burwell (class of '02) hired for one year as visiting professor.

• 2003, PhD program reaccredited "Without Stipulation."

• 2004, one hundredth doctoral student graduates.   Benningfield tenure ends; McWey joins Florida State faculty.   Maggie Keeling from Texas Tech and Megan Dolbin-MacNab from Purdue join faculty.

• 2005, '04 program graduate Carole McNamee opens Willowbank Creative Center and launches The Arts in Healthcare Project, dedicated to the use of the creative arts in coping with physical illness.    Fred Piercy and Maggie Keeling travel to Indonesia to help train Indonesian therapists working with survivors of the Great Tsunami of 2004. They receive the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Excellence in Outreach Award.

• 2006, the Center partners with Roanoke Higher Education Center to create the Virginia Tech Business Forum.

• 2007, in the wake of the April 16th shootings in Norris and Ambler Johnston halls, Center and Program Director Scott Johnson and former faculty member Anna Beth Benningfield are assigned to work with the loved ones of those killed, physically and emotionally injured survivors, and other affected faculty, staff, and students as part of the newly formed Office of Recovery and Support.   Johnson is appointed Associate Director of the Office and Benningfield becomes a Special Assistant to the Provost.   With other ORS staff, they meet with hundreds of students, staff, and faculty, and spend thousands of hours working with families of the victims, survivors and their families.  Benningfield also returns to part time teaching in the program.

• 2008, 2nd year student Narkia Green is among the first class of AAMFT Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Doctoral Minority Fellows.   Later that year, first year student Tenille Richardson also receives a SAMHSA Fellowship.  Johnson and Benningfield help provide support for Northern Illinois University, which experiences a mass shooting on its campus on Valentine's Day, 2008.

• 2009, the Center completes its 30th year of offering services to individuals, couples, families, groups, and organizations.

• 2010, Maggie Keeling, Clinical Training Director, resigns to take a position at Southern Methodist University's Plano campus.   Anna Beth Benningfield returns as Interim Clinical Training Director.   Johnson leaves the Office of Recovery and Support after three years of being assigned there both full and part time, and continues full time as Program Director.  Benningfield likewise ends her role as Special Assistant to the Provost, working with departments and local families affected by the 2007 shootings. Program is reaccredited for 5th consecutive time.

• 2011, Valerie Glass takes over as Visiting Assistant Professor and Clinical Training Director.  Former Department Head and Associate Dean Fred Piercy joins the MFT faculty full-time.  Anisa Zvonkovic takes over as Human Development Department Head from Shannon Jarrott.  Johnson leads an international delegation of MFTs to three universities and two therapy centers in China, while Piercy is chosen as Editor of the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy.

• 2012, Erika Grasky joins the MFT faculty from Ohio State's MFT doctoral program, taking over as Internship Coordinator from Dolbin-MacNab.  Dolbin-MacNab becomes Clinical Training Director as Glass moves on; she earns tenure and leads trip with Shannon Jarrott to South Africa, working with grandmother-headed families there.  Johnson returns to Beijing for Sino-American MFT Conference.

• 2016, Scott Johnson retires; Megan Dolbin-MacNab takes over as Program Director.  Jenene Case Pease is hired as Clinical Director.