Doctor of physical therapy, academic programs approved by WKU Regents committee

Tessa Duvall

A total of six new academic degrees or certificates, including the doctor of physical therapy, could be offered at WKU pending the approval of the full Board of Regents in January.

At Friday’s committee meetings, the Academic Affairs committee approved the following:

•    Doctor of physical therapy degree

•    Graduate certificate in dietetic practice

•    Graduate certificate in Lean Sigma

•    Undergraduate certificate in food processing and technology

•    Undergraduate minor in global health service

•    Undergraduate minor in news/editorial journalism

Harvey Wallmann, director of the doctor of physical therapy program, said WKU is currently waiting for the curriculum to be approved.

Once approved, the physical therapy program will be the university’s third doctoral program, in addition to nursing practice and educational leadership.

The program will be a three-year track and 118-credit hours with 45 core courses, Wallmann said.

By comparison, the national average is 115 hours, the University of Kentucky requires 118 and Bellarmine University requires 141 hours, he said.

The Kentucky Hospital Association conducted a survey that found there is a need for more than 60 additional physical therapists in Kentucky, with a total of more than 600 needed by 2018, Wallmann said.

“There’s obvious need for physical therapists,” he said.

Wallmann said two more faculty are currently being hired for the program.

He said evenutally he would like for there to be a total of eight faculty in the program, with the first hires being tenure-track positions with later additions being clinical positions.

So far, there have been about 40 applications to the program, which is expected to accept its first class for the fall of 2012, Wallmann said.

Thirty spots will be available.

Brian Meredith, associate vice president for Enrollment Management, was present to update the Regents on enrollment numbers.

“We’re in pretty OK shape for the spring,” Meredith said.

However, winter term registration is pretty slow, which could possibly be attributed to Pell Grants being reduced for winter and summer term classes, Meredith said.

Gordon Emslie, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said the number of seniors and Navitas students at WKU are also showing an increase.

The first quarterly Board of Regents meeting of 2012 will take place on Jan. 20.