Program deletion ‘unlikely’

By Katrina Kelly

Deletion of the physical therapy program is “extremely unlikely,” said Peggy Sullivan, dean of NIU’s College of Professional Studies, Monday.

Olive Kimball, chairwoman of allied health professions, said the deletion of the program has been a possibility for more than two years, and a lack of clinical laboratory space “initiated a major problem.”

A University Health Service clinic room, used by physical therapy students, was closed this semester after asbestos was discovered.

No clinic room was made available in its place for the program’s use.

NIU Provost Kendall Baker said the program has been “trying to find alternatives” since the time of the clinic room’s closing.

Baker will make a decision concerning the future of the program by Friday.

Sullivan said one possibility is to suspend admissions into the program for one year.

She said holding off admissions would give the program time to recruit and hire the faculty needed to continue the program.

Kimball said the physical therapy program is supposed to have five full-time faculty members.

It has four full-time faculty. Five part-time teachers comprise the fifth faculty position.

Sullivan said NIU budget cuts are another factor in the decision to suspend the program. She projected the loss of about two faculty positions because of budget cuts.

Baker said he will “evaluate the total needs of the department, including space, equipment and personnel,” in making the decision.

“This decision (possible elimination of the program) was not done in the last couple of months,” he said.

Kimball said physical therapy students were not informed of the status of the program because “the program has a limited admission anyway.”

On the average, about 22 students are accepted out of the almost 300 students who apply, she said.

“It didn’t seem appropriate to alert all 300 (pre-physical therapy students),” Kimball said.

Sullivan said students also might apply to the program who are not enrolled in pre-physical therapy or who attend other universities.

“There are many more students in pre-physical therapy than can be admitted,” she said.

Kimball said students planning to apply for acceptance into the physical therapy program “have few alternatives” if NIU’s program is eliminated because deadlines have passed for admittance into physical therapy programs at other schools for fall 1988.

Mary Jane Harris, physical therapy program coordinator, said pre-physical therapy students could apply to other programs, remain at NIU and change majors or “wait to find out how long the deferment is.”

Baker said a decision to end the program would require approval by the Board of Regents.