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San Diego State University

Community College Leadership programs


Majorie F. Olney, PhD is a faculty member in the Department of Administration, Rehabilitation, and Postsecondary Education (ARPE) at San Diego State University (SDSU). She completed her doctorate in Rehabilitation Counseling at Syracuse University in 1995 and has been a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) continuously since that time. Several years ago, Dr. Olney also earned the Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner (CPRP) credential. Dr. Olney has nearly two decades of tenured/tenure track university experience. She was promoted to the rank of Professor in 2012. 

Dr. Olney teaches in the MS in Rehabilitation Counseling program as well as the doctoral program in Educational Leadership within ARPE. She directs the Certificate in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling and Clinical Mental Health and the advanced Certificate in Psychiatric Rehabilitation and teaches classes in to psychiatric rehabilitation as well as several general rehabilitation counseling courses. A seasoned teacher, Dr. Olney seeks to create a supportive yet challenging learning environment for students. She uses multiple methods such as blogs, discussion boards, group projects, research papers, book clubs, and small group activities to facilitate learning and encourage critical thinking.

An active researcher, Dr. Olney has almost 30 peer reviewed, published journal articles as well as numerous reports, books and book chapters. She has presented over 50 conference papers, both peer reviewed and invited. Dr. Olney is primarily a qualitative researcher and teaches the doctoral course in Qualitative Methods of Injuiry. She received advanced training in qualitative research methods during her doctoral program, working closely with Dr. Robert Bogdan and Dr. Steven Taylor, both authors of influential textbooks in qualitative research. Dr. Olney has used her qualitative research skills extensively since 1995, completing many studies using various qualitative methods including participant observation, interviews, document analysis, and focus groups.

Dr. Olney's studies focus on the strategies people with disabilities employ to succeed in school, work, or community life. Within this framework, she has examined self-management methods, communication of individuals with severe disabilities, strategies of university students with disabilities, and how recipients of disability benefits negotiate a confusing and unforgiving Social Security system. Recently, Dr. Olney was co-investigator on a NIDRR project for which she led focus groups of recipients of Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI/DI) to get the consumer perspective on health concerns and employment. Her most recent research is a qualitative examination of the impact of completion of a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) course on the employment success of individuals with psychiatric disabilites.

Over the years, Dr. Olney has been Principle or Co-Principle Investigator on grants worth $2,771,838 for research, service, and training. As a research-active faculty member, she regularly receives assigned time through the College of Education.

Dr. Olney serves the department and college in leadership roles. She is also deeply committed to several organizations in the San Diego community inclusing the Workforce, Education, and Training (WET) committee of San Diego Behavioral Health (county mental health). Dr. Olney is on the editorial board of the journal Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin and is an active member of the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (PRA) and the National Council of Rehabilitation Educators (NCRE) where she sits on the mental health council.

Curriculum Vitae

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Contact Us

Wendy Bracken, EdD
Program Faculty Director
EdD in Community College Leadership

Department of Administration, Rehabilitation, & Postsecondary Education (ARPE/Interwork Institute)
San Diego State University
Education & Business Administration 246
5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182

Office Hours

Monday –  Friday 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.