Dr. Betsy Kemeny
340 Patterson Hall
Dr. Betsy Kemeny, the Chair of the Recreational Therapy Department, is an Associate Professor of Recreational Therapy at SRU with more than 30 years as an educator and practitioner. For more than 20 years, she worked as a recreational therapist in geriatrics. After completely her bachelor's degree at Wake Forest University with honors in Sociology and a masters in Therapeutic Recreation at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she gained experience at all levels of the older adult continuum including adult day care, skilled nursing, hospice, assisted living and outpatient rehabilitation. As a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS), she also has a PhD in Administration and Leadership of Nonprofit and Public Sectors from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. In the last 12 years, she expanded her research agenda to include recreational therapy for individuals with developmental disabilities, with a special emphasis on autism spectrum disorder. She is recognized as a Fellow Distinguished in Recreational Therapy (FDRT), a Certified Professional Gerontologist (CPG), and a member of the International Society on Autism Research (INSAR).
She specializes in high-impact service-learning programs to provide students with hands-on experience, such as TRAILS (Therapeutic Recreation: Accessing Independence in Leisure and Social Skills), and a partnered program with the Pennsylvania Department on Aging for at-risk older adults living in the community. She serves the grant director for the Adapted Sports grant for Veterans which provides Equine Assisted Services to veterans with disabilities in six counties. Since 2014, she has served on the board of the American Therapeutic Recreation Association, the national professional association for recreational therapists, serving as Secretary from 2016 to 2019, and President (elect, president, past) from 2019 to 2022. From 2016 to 2020, she served as ATRA's liaison to CARTE, the Commission on Accreditation of Recreational Therapy Education. Dr. Kemeny has an extensive research agenda focusing on older adults, adolescents with ASD, and animal assisted interventions. She has authored/co-authored 2 technical reports, 21 peer-review journal articles, a textbook on Recreational Therapy for Older Adults, 2 book chapters, and 10 research abstracts. She particularly enjoys faculty-student research, grant writing, gardening, reading, and travel with her husband and two adult children.