Janelle O' Connell-Department Head and Professor, Director of PT Admissions
HSB-208 16004 325-670-1339

Janelle K O'Connell

Dean, College of Health Professions; Professor of Physical Therapy College of Health Professions


  • B.S. in Education, Physical Education, Central Michigan University, 1977
  • M.A., Exercise Physiology, Kent State University, 1979
  • Ph.D., Health Education/Health Promotion, University of Toledo, 1984
  • Master of Physical Therapy (MPT), Hardin-Simmons University, 1997
  • Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), Hardin-Simmons University, 2008

Dr. Janelle O’Connell holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Central Michigan University in physical education with a concentration in athletic training, a Master of Arts degree in exercise physiology from Kent State University and her Ph.D. in health promotion and disease prevention from the University of Toledo. She received her MPT and transitional DPT from Hardin-Simmons University. She has been a certified Athletic Trainer since 1978 and is licensed to practice Athletic Training in the State of Texas. She is also certified as an Exercise Expert for Aging Adults (CEEAA) through the American Physical Therapy Association.

Dr. O’Connell was a founding member of the HSU Physical Therapy Department and named Program Director in 1999.  She is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association, the Texas Physical Therapy Association and the National Athletic Trainers Association. In 2001, she received the Arete Award given by the Abilene Education Council for “civic and moral excellence.” In 2009, she received the William R. Gould Memorial Outstanding Physical Therapy Faculty Member Award from the Texas Physical Therapy Association and in 2013 she was named “Faculty Member of the Year” at Hardin-Simmons University.

O’Connell has served as a journal reviewer for Physical Therapy and an accreditation site reviewer for the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) and the Southern Accreditation of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Her research has focused on health behavior, spirituality, and adherence to physical therapy/exercise programs, trust, health promotion and disease prevention. Selected publications can be found in: Diabetes Educator, Health Education Quarterly, and Journal of School Health, Journal of Youth and Adolescence, Patient Education and Counseling, Perceptual and Motor Skills and Psychological Reports.

“Dr. J” is actively involved in the HSU PT Ministries program that she co-founded with her husband, Dr. Dennis O’Connell in 2000. Yearly, since that time, Physical Therapy students have numerous opportunities to engage in service-learning projects locally, in the state of Texas and internationally to such places as Mexico, Guatemala, Haiti and Peru.  Physical Therapy students gain valuable hands-on experience through the HSU PT Ministries program which allows them to utilize the gifts the Lord has given them to help others.

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