Professor John Petrila Receives Fulbright Scholar Award

John Petrila, J.D., LLM., a professor in the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences at the University of South Florida has been awarded a Fulbright Scholar Award for January – June 2011 at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands.

Petrila will teach a course on international perspectives on mental health law and the rights of people with mental illnesses. He will also work in conjunction with other faculty at the University of Maastricht to develop a research agenda for the first two year master’s program in forensic psychology in continental Europe. This will include the development of a pilot research project on the use of coercion in community mental health care in the Netherlands.

Petrila was an international advisor to the university during the program’s inception, lending his expertise and knowledge of the field to its development.

“John’s work with the University of Maastricht is a logical extension of a career devoted to mental disability and health care law and policy issues,” said Dr. Junius Gonzales, dean of the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences. “We are proud of his accomplishments and the recognition he brings to the college.”

Sponsored by the United States government, The Fulbright Program is the flagship international exchange program designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United Sates and that people of other countries.

It provides participants - selected for their academic merit and leadership potential - the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

Since its inaugural in the late 1940s, the Fulbright Program has been an integral part of U.S. foreign relations. In doing so, it created a framework to provide a better understanding of U.S. views and values, promotes more effective binational cooperation and nurtures open-minded, thoughtful leaders, both in the U.S. and abroad, who can work together to address common concerns.

Professor Petrila joined the University of South Florida in 1992 as Chair of the Department of Mental Health Law & Policy at the Florida Mental Health Institute. He received his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1976 and an advanced degree in mental health law from the same university. Prior to coming to USF, he served as general counsel to the New York Office of Mental Health. He is a widely cited mental health law scholar, and is co-author of Psychological Evaluations for the Courts (3rd edition), the leading text on forensic mental health assessments. In addition, he is the past president of the International Association of Forensic Mental Health Services, a member of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Mandated Community Treatment, and the recipient of a USF President’s Award for Faculty Excellence in 2003.