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October 2007

Release Date: October 25, 2007

Preliminary Approval Given for ASU to Establish First Doctorate

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) has granted preliminary authority for Angelo State University to establish its first doctorate, a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program that would begin accepting students in three years.

THECB’s preliminary approval came Thursday, Oct. 25, at a regular meeting of the board in Austin and puts ASU’s youngest academic department on an administrative course that will lead to the university’s first doctoral program in 2010.

ASU President Joseph C. Rallo said the move toward a doctoral program is a natural progression in the university’s academic growth and commitment to fulfilling its mission.

“It is particularly appropriate that our first doctorate will be in physical therapy,” Rallo said, “because of the outstanding community support which helped establish the program eight years ago. The preliminary authorization is a proud moment not just for Angelo State but also for the San Angelo community which helped make it possible.”

Local health facilities, area foundations and individuals contributed more than $1 million to ASU in the mid-1990s to help establish the program that leads to a Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) degree. THECB granted preliminary authority to create the Physical Therapy Department in 1998.

ASU’s physical therapy program accepted its first students in 2000 and in 2002 graduated the first of its five classes. To date the program has graduated 60 physical therapists with another 19 scheduled to graduate in December.

Dr. Scott Hasson, head of ASU’s Physical Therapy Department, said that the move toward a DPT from an MPT follows a national trend initiated by the American Physical Therapy Association’s Vision 2020 to elevate the training of therapists to a doctoral level similar to those granted in medicine, dentistry and law. Hasson said that 87 percent of PT programs nationally have moved to a DPT, most within the last three years.

Now that ASU has received preliminary authorization, the next step will be to gain full approval for the DPT degree with a major in physical therapy. This requires another application and external site visit coordinated by the THECB.

As part of the process, the university must also gain permission from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the university’s accrediting agency, to move ASU from a Level III institution, which offers a master’s as its highest degree, to a Level V institution, which grants doctorates in three or fewer programs. This process will also involve a full SACS application and site visit for the Physical Therapy Program.

If the process proceeds as anticipated, Hasson said ASU will gain full state and SACS approval during the 2008-09 academic year and will admit the first DPT class in May of 2010.

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