Program awaits approval

By Amanda Martin

NIU’s once-troubled physical therapy program now awaits approval to increase enrollment after a year of restructuring.

Olive Kimball, chairman of NIU’s allied health professions department, said she is waiting for a decision from NIU Provost Kendall Baker to determine if enrollment can be increased to 22 students from 12.

The physical therapy program limited its enrollment to 12 students last semester, down from 22 students in spring 1988, due to cutbacks in funding and a loss of much-needed clinical laboratory space.

The program’s clinic room was closed after asbestos was found in the University Health Service building basement last year. The program acquired laboratory space adjacent to the program’s offices at Pottinger House, 520 College View Court, earlier this semester.

Kimball said 12 students have been accepted into the program for the fall 1989 semester, but she hopes that number will be increased with Baker’s approval.

“We’re still hopeful that we will get (enrollment) back up to 22 next year,” she said. Kimball declined further comment on the program’s status.

Baker said he has had preliminary conferences with Peggy Sullivan, dean of NIU’s College of Professional Studies, and will have another conference next week, at which time he said he most likely will make a decision. Baker declined comment on what that decision might be.

Baker established four criteria in April 1988 that the physical therapy department needed to address within a year in order for an enrollment increase to be considered. Baker has not indicated a decision as of yet, Kimball said.

One criterion Baker established was an increase in the number of full-time physical therapy faculty. The program currently has two full-time faculty and several part-time faculty.

Mary Jane Harris, physical therapy program coordinator, said the program has increased efforts and started work on other efforts to meet the four criteria. Harris could not say how those efforts will influence Baker’s decision.

A faculty search began earlier this semester. Kimball said one person, and possibly another, will be hired in the near future. A third opening is still available.

Other criteria established by Baker include an increase in financial resources, the establishment of a faculty practice plan and increased collaboration with internal and external agencies.

NIU’s physical therapy program is one of four in Illinois. As a result of the enrollment decrease, the program dropped to fourth in size, behind the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle, Northwestern University at Evanston and the Chicago Medical School.