by Claire Miller
Gracious. Kind. Supportive. Inspiring. Role model. Teacher. Mentor. Friend.
It’s hard for his colleagues, students, family and friends to agree on one word that accurately describes Kenneth Matheny, who retired this year after serving as Regents’ Professor in the College of Education’s Department of Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) for 45 years.
And they came together to honor his contributions to Georgia State University and the field of education at his retirement celebration on Sept. 15.
Matheny, a native of Huntington, W. Va., received his B.A. degree from Olivet Nazarene College, his M.A. from the University of Missouri, his Ph.D. from Michigan State University, and took postgraduate courses at Johannes Gutenberg University in West Germany.
After serving as a member of the faculty at Michigan State, Matheny received a call in 1966 to come to Georgia State University and help establish the Counseling and Psychological Services Department.
“During his four-year tenure as chair, Dr. Matheny had a faculty of five or six individuals, established multiple doctoral programs and established the counseling program,” said Brian Dew, current chair of the CPS department. “But more importantly, his vision for a department was to have more than just one profession – he wanted counselors, [counseling] psychologists and school psychologists working together to create something more than if they were working as individual parts. If you come to a CPS faculty meeting today, you will see the same spirit and the same sense of collaboration that was started back in 1966.”
During his tenure at Georgia State, Matheny has authored five books and 85 professional articles, and he is the senior author of the Coping Resources Inventory for Stress — an instrument measuring stress coping resources that has been translated into Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Mandarin Chinese and Japanese. He is a Diplomate in Counseling Psychology with the American Board of Professional Psychology and has been awarded Fellow Status with the Academy of Counseling Psychology, the American Association of Applied and Preventive Psychology and the Georgia Psychological Association.
Matheny’s research and scholarship are seconded only to his commitment to his students and peers. He was the recipient of the first Alumni Distinguished Professor Award given to a faculty member of the College of Education and received the Faculty Mentoring Award from the Department of Counseling and Psychological Services in 2000 and 2006.
Current students and COE alumni alike herald Matheny as a professor who is not only impressive intellectually, but who also supports and mentors his students.
“If you’ve taken one of Ken’s courses, you know that he incorporates quotes into his classes. There was one quote that said, ‘When the student is ready, the teacher appears.’ And I was so ready to meet a teacher like Ken Matheny,” said Linda Pak Bruner (Ph.D. ’04), a licensed counselor and one of Matheny’s former students. “He taught with such wisdom, humility and kindness, and he brought us along on his journey. I was so inspired by Dr. Matheny after every class and his legacy is with me as I serve my clients.”
Chris Abree, Matheny’s grandson, shares the same admiration Matheny’s students have for a man who spends time with him every week discussing philosophy and psychology, and who serves as a role model for the kind of person Abree wants to be.
“If I can touch one person’s life the way he has, then I’ll have achieved something,” he said. “I’m grateful to have such a positive person in my life.”
As he stood before the crowd of people gathered in his honor, Matheny was quick to credit others for laying the foundation for the CPS department and helping him throughout his career. He thanked attendees for their kind words about him.
“I’m overwhelmed – your comments were so gracious and I appreciate that,” he said. “I don’t know how you can spend 45 years any more enjoyably than I have here. We’ve had a family spirit in our department all this time. And on some cold, dark, winter day in my retirement, when I don’t have a lot else to do, my mind will drift back to this night and fill my heart with warmth and joy.”
For more information about the Department of Counseling and Psychological Services, visit http://education.gsu.edu/CPS/index.htm.