Graduate school plans to offer occupational therapy

By Sara Marshall

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Huntington University has decided to expand the programs offered in their adult education program by adding an occupational therapy program. The university’s goal is to reach more students in the Fort Wayne area with this new realm of study.

The school was approached by the Parkview Health system a year and a half ago with this opportunity. Parkview was moving from their old location on Randalia Avenue in Fort Wayne to their new location on DuPont Avenue and was seeking a way to still make use of their facility.

Parkview contacted HU, Trine University, Fort Wayne Community Schools and Ivy Tech Community College and they began talking about different ways that this space could be used in a way that catered to each of the schools’ skills.

Trine decided to launch a graduate program in physical therapy and Huntington has joined them and decided to launch a masters and doctorate program in ccupational therapy.

This effort is being headed by Ann McPherren, Ph. D., senior vice president for strategy and graduate and adult programs, and Steve Holtrop, Ph.D., dean of graduate and adult studies.

McPherren said the program is still in the beginning stages, but “the next step is to hire a program director, someone that will be able to build the program.”

She said they plan to hire someone in the spring.

“Then have them spend the 2013-2014 school year gaining accreditation, building the curriculum and hiring other faculty,” she said.

The university hopes to have the program in full swing and to start offering classes in the fall of 2014. Holtrop explained that the area of allied health is a growing job market, and this is going to be an attractive program for those interested in tapping into that market.

“There are not many occupational therapy programs at thislevel around the country, so it is a great way for us to get involved in this specific growing area,” Holtrop said.

The program was approved by the university and the community is excited about this expansion for the university.
Holtrop is aware that funding for the program is a challenge, but is confident that it can be achieved.

“This program will more than pay for itself once students come, in terms of cash flow from tuition,” he said.

McPherren said this program, despite being a graduate level program, could help undergraduate enrollment.

“This will enhance undergrad enrollment, specifically students with science degrees,” she said. “It attracts more students, especially if they see they could move on after their undergrad and gain a masters degree in their area of study through their same undergraduate institution.”

Holtrop said he has great expectations for this new opportunity.

“I get excited when HU can provide preparation for a service oriented profession, especially at this level.”

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