Dr. Scott Walters named UNT System Regents Professor

By Sally Crocker

Walters WebFor nearly 20 years, Dr. Scott Walters has served others in extraordinary ways through research, teaching, scholarship, community service and contributions to the public good.

In recognition of his work and its impact, the UNT System Board of Regents has awarded Dr. Walters with a rare academic distinction as Regents Professor.

Dr. Walters, who joined UNTHSC in 2011, serves as Professor and Chair for the Department of Health Behavior and Health Systems in the School of Public Health.

He is the only SPH professor to receive this honor in the school’s nearly 20-year history.

As a behavioral health researcher seeking solutions to critical public health issues, Dr. Walters focuses on developing better ways to talk with people about making positive changes.

His research has developed new ways of using smartphones and computers to understand people’s motivation for substance use and other risky behaviors, in order to personalize ways to help them with recovery and other goals.

He and a colleague were recently awarded a major, $650,000 grantfrom the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop and test a unique smartphone-based alcohol treatment for homeless adults, using geolocation and self-reporting in real time to better identify factors that lead people to drink.

Dr. Walters has also created online solutions to help court-ordered probationers meet their substance abuse recovery goals through a unique program called MAPIT. The responsive, self-guided software program addresses a critical need in the criminal justice system, where more than half of the country’s 3.5 million probationers struggle with completing required treatment.

His work has also developed ways to address heavy drinking in hospital settings, vocational success for veterans with a criminal history, alcohol interventions for young adults, community-based health navigationand health advocacyfor people at risk of interpersonal violence. In total, he has secured more than $10 million in research funding.

In addition to publishing more than 100 articles and book chapters and five books, Dr. Walters has been recognized for his teaching at UNTHSC and other universities.

“Dr. Walters is a highly sought teacher as well as an internationally renowned researcher and scholar,” said Dr. Mary Marden Velasquez, Director of the Health Behavior Research and Training Institute and Centennial Professor in Leadership for Community, Professional and Corporate Excellence at The University of Texas at Austin, in a recommendation letter offered to the UNT System Board of Regents. “In my many years in higher education, I have not encountered a more outstanding teacher and mentor to students, faculty and colleagues.”

As a nationally recognized expert in Motivational Interviewing, a behavior change strategy that has been applied in a wide range of settings, Dr. Walters is frequently consulted by news media and invited to conduct training for criminal justice workers, counselors and health care professionals. In the last 15 years, he has conducted more than 200 training sessions across the country.

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