Dr. Teresa McCartney honored as Emeritus Professor of Counselor Education

(05-21-2014)

Teri McCartney may have been a bit of a late bloomer when it came to higher education, but she more than made up for lost time. The Adams State University alumna recently retired as Emeritus Professor of Counselor Education, concluding a career that encompassed teaching, administration, and student services. She has applied her expertise to several special university projects and committees, as well as a number of area non-profit organizations.

McCartney started college at age 25, doing it "the expensive way:" beginning at Adams State and transferring a couple of times before circling back to Alamosa. She knew she wanted to major in English during her first English class with Dr. Jodine Ryan.

"Jodine had a passion for the written word. She instilled in me an appreciation of the beauty of language," McCartney said. "She was incredibly encouraging to me as a writer."

After earning her B.A. in English with a minor in journalism in 1987, she taught those subjects for three years at Monte Vista High School. "Kids would write about their lives, and I realized that talking and listening to them was so much more important that teaching them how to diagram sentences." With encouragement from the Monte Vista school counselor, she returned to Adams State and completed her master's in Guidance and Counseling in 1992, then served as the counselor at Alamosa's Ortega Middle School.

The opportunity to head Adams State's Counseling Center came in 1994. "I loved that job," McCartney said. During her three-year tenure, she developed the career counseling component of the office and initiated SART, the Sexual Assault Response Team. "But I realized I missed teaching, and I knew John Holmes was retiring, so I decided to get a Ph.D."

She took a year's leave, transitioned temporarily to a "commuting marriage," and completed "an incredible amount of course work" over two years and two months to earn her Ph.D. in Counseling at University of New Mexico in 1999.

After six years as a faculty member in counselor education, McCartney was named Adams State's Associate Provost for Graduate Studies in 2005, but returned to the faculty three years later. She had begun teaching English at Adam State in 1990, adding counseling and psychology courses in 1992, and gradually advancing through the faculty ranks.

She is very proud of her many students who have become licensed counselors in school and clinical settings.

"It has truly been amazing to see the growth in our department, while maintaining the quality of curriculum," McCartney said, referring to expansion of the online master's program and introduction this past year of a Ph.D. program in Counselor Education and Supervision. It is offered solely online, while the master's program retains an on-campus component.

Prior to the evolution of distance education delivery from on-site to online, she said, "We used to travel every Thursday night," to offer the master's in counseling at sites around the state. Online and hybrid course delivery reduced her travel to one weekend a month in Pueblo.

"At first, I really wondered how we would teach counseling online. But I learned we can develop more intimacy in online discussions. I've been amazed how deep, how honest you can get." She said. "When I think of that first online class, compared to the technology we have now - it's two different worlds. The technology keeps changing, and it's more user friendly."

McCartney's exceptional service to Adam State includes being lead writer on the CCHE Program of Excellence Grant which resulted in an award to the Counselor Education Department of $524,000. She has been the lead writer, coordinator, and data collector for the department's continued accreditation by CACREP (Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs). In addition, she served on Adams State's High Learning Commission Planning Committee and was extensively involved in preparing the institution's self-study for regional accreditation in 2006.

McCartney has many scholarly publications and national presentations to her credit and has contributed her service to a number of professional organizations. Locally, McCartney is the current president of the San Luis Valley Cancer Relief Fund, a member and past-president of the Alamosa Live Music Association (ALMA), and previously served on the boards of Tu Casa (domestic and sexual violence services) and SSAVE (Suicide, Substance Abuse & Violence Education).

Retirement will free McCartney to travel to gigs with her husband, musician Don Richmond, and she intends to continue her private counseling practice.

"It's time for me to have something else. There is a whole list of things I want to do," including learning to play the piano, gardening, and writing, plus activities she has yet to discover.

By Julie Waechter