Professional News

UK's Ralph Crystal Receives Rehabilitation Education’s Highest Honor

Ralph Crystal with student with laptop at desk
Ralph Crystal meeting with a counselor education student.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 12, 2020) — The National Council on Rehabilitation Education has selected Ralph M. Crystal for the 2020 Distinguished Career in Rehabilitation Education Award. Crystal's award will be presented during the council’s spring conference in San Diego, California. It is the highest honor an educator can attain in the field of rehabilitation education.

“I am honored that the National Council on Rehabilitation Education selected me to receive this award,” Crystal said. “I am thankful to my colleagues through the years who have played integral roles in collaborating on teaching, research and service projects and in ensuring we are providing students with a strong foundation for careers in rehabilitation counseling.”

Crystal is the Wallace Charles Hill Professor of Counselor Education at the University of Kentucky College of Education, where he has been on faculty since 1981. He currently is chair of the Department of Early Childhood, Special Education and Counselor Education.

“Dr. Crystal has influenced the training of countless students of rehabilitation counseling during his nearly 40 years at the University of Kentucky,” said UK College of Education Dean Julian Vasquez Heilig. “Our college developed the first online master’s program at the University of Kentucky, and it was one of the first in the nation for rehabilitation counseling. We are consistently ranked among the top 10 programs in the nation. The history and quality of our programs can be attributed to the work of our faculty and their reputation in the field. We are thankful that, since 1981, Dr. Crystal has helped prepare our students to make a difference.”

Crystal received his doctoral degree in rehabilitation psychology, educational research and statistics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1977. Prior to that, he completed a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Pace University and a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling at New York University.

Prior to joining the faculty at UK, Crystal began his career as director of counseling, evaluation and employment at a community rehabilitation program. Following that, he received an appointment as research director and assistant professor with the rehabilitation research and education programs at the University of Michigan.

Crystal has been a principal investigator of federal and state grants and contracts to conduct evaluation of state vocational rehabilitation agencies, client assistance programs and state model evaluation units. Through the years, he has worked on numerous federal grants to support students; state grants to conduct client satisfaction studies; and contracts to evaluate state vocational rehabilitation programs. Crystal oversaw the development of UK’s undergraduate disabilities studies program and the doctoral program in counselor education and supervision.

Crystal’s academic work has included research published in peer reviewed journals, books and related publications on program evaluation methodologies and studies of state vocational rehabilitation programs. His writing has included studies of forensic vocational practices, development and establishment of curriculum for rehabilitation education programs and studies of client satisfaction and program and student learning outcomes.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" two years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.