CU Physical Therapy Celebrates 75 Years
The anniversary celebration was held Friday, October 6, 2023Zachary Noriega | Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation/CU School of Medicine Oct 9, 2023
The programming started with a comedic skit by CU Physical Therapy program director and associate dean of physical therapy education Michael Harris Love, PT, MPT, DSc, FGSA, FAPTA, and co-president of the CU Physical Therapy Alumni Association and Super Bowl 50 Champion David Bruton, PT, DPT '21. Following this skit, Joanna Roybal, PT, DPT '10 co-president of the CU Physical Therapy Alumni Association, and Margie O'Rourke, alumni relations manager, presented to the alumni in the audience on ways they could get involved with the association.
Retired faculty member of the CU Physical Therapy Program, and president of the CU PT History Committee Sharon Jordan, PT, MA, and communication program manager for the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Zachary Noriega, MPA, debuted a 12 minute documentary capturing the history of the CU Physical Therapy Program over the last 75 years. Afterwards, Venu Akuthota, MD, chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and John J. Reilly, Jr., MD, dean of the CU School of Medicine introduced executive vice chancellor for academic and student affairs Roderick Nairn, PhD, who received the Mary S. Lawrence Award, which is given to university employees or other academic partners who have provided sustained, meaningful contributions to the program. Award recipients demonstrate dedication to the program by promoting the CU PT vision, mission, and goals.
After the presentation of the Lawrence Award, current CU Physical Therapy students Angela Delos Santos, Blake Vanderploeg, Aryssara Bryndzia, and Makayla Callender introduced the "Friends of the Program" video. People across the physical therapy community sent in home videos congratulating CU PT on this milestone anniversary. Following this video, Jennifer Stevens-Lapsley, PT, PhD, FAPTA, director of the Rehabilitation Science PhD Program and section director of research and development, gave an update to the audience on research within the program, and Jennifer Rodriguez, PT, DPT, MHS, director of clinical education gave an update on the state of clinical education in the program. Dr. Rodriguez is retiring at the end of the year, and was surprised by the clinical education team with a special acknowledgement as the longest serving director of clinical education in the country (32 years!)
After Dr. Rodriguez's special acknowledgement, Andrew Smith, PT, DPT, PhD, associate professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and current PhD student and practicing physical therapist at Craig Hospital, Wesley Thornton, PT, DPT, NCS, PhD(c), introduced the keynote speaker, Jandel Allen-Davis, MD, President and CEO of Craig Hospital, who gave a compelling speech to the audience on the importance of compassion in the field of physical therapy, and acknowledging the many CU Physical Therapy graduates who now work at Craig Hospital. Following the keynote address, Travis Leiker, MPA, senior director of development, and Karen Aarestad, PhD, MBA, assistant vice chancellor of Advancement, acknowledged the benefactors in the audience, and introduced the new president of the Philanthropy and Advisory Council, Martha Schram, PT '73. Dr. Harris-Love concluded the programming with closing remarks about how his family's story motivated him to pursue a career in the physical therapy field.
The CU Physical Therapy Program is grateful to everyone who attended the festivities, and everyone who has contributed to making us one of the top physical therapy programs in the country throughout our history. From our humble beginnings in the late-1940's as a small cohort of six students tucked away at the back of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, the program has grown tremendously in the last 75 to include over 220 students, millions of dollars in research funding, partnerships with over 500 clinical sites, expansion to hybrid learning in partnership with UCCS, and a dual DPT-MPH degree with the Colorado School of Public Health. We are proud of all we have built together, and look forward to the next 75 years!