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The Faculty Senate has endorsed a proposal for a doctoral program in physical therapy and offered a few of its own changes to proposed revisions in the university's smoking policy.

According to a program proposal reviewed and recommended by the curriculum committees in the School of Physical Therapy and College of Health Sciences, and by Dean Cheryl Samuels, the change from a master's to a doctoral program reflects a trend across the country and would ensure that Old Dominion's program remain competitive and provide provide appropriate training.

Of the nation's 191 accredited programs in physical therapy (as of April 1), 22 are doctoral programs, 19 are in transition and 45 are either seeking approval for transition or considering the move to a doctoral program.

The committees' justification statement notes: "...Physical therapists practicing today are independent practitioners who have a responsibility not only to understand the entire scope of their practice, but also to screen for problems that are outside of their scope of practice and make appropriate referrals.

"Progressing to the DPT degree as the entry into the profession is a logical step to ensure that graduates will have the required knowledge, skills and abilities to deliver physical therapy services to meet not only today's needs, but the needs of the population in the future. The American Physical Therapy Association supports and endorses this process."

Speaking at the Faculty Senate meeting, George Maihafer, chair of the School of Physical Therapy, noted that the current requirement of 88 credits in 26 months of full-time study for the master's degree presents a "time constraint challenge" for students.

If approved, the new program would start in fall 2002, with its first graduates receiving degrees in spring 2005. The first year of full enrollment - projected at 123 (head count), 164 (FTE) - is anticipated for 2004-05.

Dana Burnett, vice president for student services, forwarded proposed changes to the smoking policy for the senate's consideration. Endorsing Burnett's call for prohibiting smoking within 20 feet of the entrance to any campus building and in university vehicles, a senate committee also came up with the following revised guidelines, which were adopted as a recommendation by the full senate:

-Smoking is prohibited in all indoor and enclosed courtyard locations.
-Smoking is prohibited in all outdoor athletic facilities that are defined by a fence or wall and within 20 feet of fence or
wall entrances.
-Smoking is prohibited in all university provided vehicles.
-Further, smoking is prohibited in any area in which a fire or safety hazard exists.

The senate also voted to strike the last four words in the following statement which is part of the current university policy: "Smoking is prohibited in all university facilities except where expressly permitted."

Senator William Drewry pointed out that the current policy allows for exceptions in building areas that are "properly ventilated," but he argued that, in fact, "no such rooms exist on campus and there are no plans for any such rooms being built."

Senator James English proposed adding an amendment that would make the dropping of cigarette butts on the ground an act of littering, but it was defeated due to concerns about the ability to enforce such a sanction. Drewry noted that ashtrays would need to be moved at least 20 feet away from the entrances of buildings if the measure gains university approval.

The senate's recommendations on the doctoral program in physical therapy and the smoking policy will be forwarded to President Roseann Runte.

This article was posted on: November 7, 2001

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