story by Claire Miller

When Ken Rice accepted the Ken and Mary Matheny Endowed Professorship in the College of Education & Human Development’s Department of Counseling and Psychological Services in 2012, he quickly saw the influence that his professorship’s namesake had made.

“From what I can tell, the department has managed to follow some core Ken values: People getting along, doing their best to share resources and creating an environment where people want to come to work and interact with each other,” Rice said.

Regents’ Professor Ken Matheny helped establish the Department of Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) and its graduate programs at Georgia State University in the late 1960s. His efforts in the intervening decades to mentor students and faculty, conduct research that would positively impact others, and consult with government and community agencies to improve mental health outcomes demonstrated how he lived the values his department reflects to this day.

Dr. Matheny continued to support the department through his Ken Matheny Endowed Professorship and the Ken and Mary Matheny Scholarship Fund, given annually to support doctoral students in CPS.

And Matheny’s legacy will continue through the college’s newly-dedicated Ken Matheny Center for the Study of Stress, Trauma, and Resilience.

The center, established in 2016, encourages researchers from across disciplines to work together to better understand how people respond to stress and trauma and what makes people resilient in the face of stress. Rice and Professor Jeff Ashby serve as co-directors of the center, hosting an annual speaker series and offering financial support for research projects and support for doctoral students whose work falls within the center’s interdisciplinary scope.

“The mission of the center is completely consistent with what Ken did to foster collaboration and collegiality,” Ashby said. “We’re truly honored to be co-directors of the Ken Matheny Center for the Study of Stress, Trauma, and Resilience.”

On March 10, the college and CPS hosted a virtual celebration to recognize Dr. Matheny for his decades of work and to formally dedicate the center in his name.

During the celebration, Dr. Matheny spoke about how coming to Georgia State changed his life and he expressed gratitude for the people who will continue to conduct research in his field of study.

“I had found a home here – not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. It’s been wonderful working at Georgia State,” he said. “I deeply appreciate what you’re doing and I feel like you’ve honored my work by allowing me to be associated with this most promising center. I am deeply proud of its mission and accomplishments, and I wish to support the center in any way that I can.”



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