WKU’s doctor of physical therapy program jumped through one more hurdle on Friday at the Board of Regents meeting, where it was approved unanimously along with five other academic degrees or certificates.
Students can now pursue a graduate certificate in dietetic practice and Lean Sigma, undergraduate certificates in food processing and technology, and minors in news/editorial journalism and global health service in addition to the doctor of physical therapy.
The doctor of physical therapy is the university’s third doctoral program, joining nursing practice and educational leadership.
Harvey Wallmann, director of the doctor of physical therapy program, said he is thankful for the board and upper administration.
“There’s so much support from the upper administration,” Wallmann said. “They really want this to go. The reason they brought this on, it’s not just students going ‘hey we would like to have this program.’
“It’s the community going, ‘we need a program.’”
President Gary Ransdell stressed that despite cutbacks in state funding, WKU would continue moving forward with new programs and hiring new faculty such as the doctor of physical therapy and the eight faculty positions needed for the program.
“We’re dedicated to academic quality and filling faculty positions,” Ransdell said.
Only a few more hurdles remain for the program as it seeks to become accredited.
Wallmann said that making contracts with clinical institutions for students to use for training while in the program is the biggest remaining obstacle.
“That’s what we’re working on right now, trying to get those contractual agreements, which you know, nothing is over night,” he said.
Wallmann said there are about 50 to 60 applicants for the program, which is set to launch in the fall. The deadline for applications into the program has been extended until Feb. 15 with the hope of gaining more applicants. Interviews are being planned for the beginning of March.
Thirty applicants will be accepted into the program in its first year.
Currently only two other universities in Kentucky offer physical therapy programs — Bellarmine University and the University of Kentucky.
WKU’s program will consists of 118 credit hours and hands-on training at clinics. UK also has an 118 credit hour program, while Bellarmine University requires 141 hours.
Wallmann stressed the need for another program in the south central region of Kentucky.
“There are a lot of jobs that aren’t out there that could be,” he said.