Action Project


University of Saint Mary





Planned project kickoff date: 0000-00-00
Target completion date: 2008-06-01
Actual completion date:

A. Give this Action Project a short title in 10 words or fewer:

Study, Develop, and Implement a Doctorate in Physical Therapy


B. Describe this Action Project's goal in 100 words or fewer:

This is a two-phased project. The first phase is to do a thorough feasibility study for a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. If the study demonstrates that it is feasible for USM to proceed with its first doctoral program,  Phase Two of this project is to implemented and launch the DPT program.

C. Identify the single AQIP Category which the Action Project will most affect or impact:

Primary Category: Helping Students Learn

D. Describe briefly your institution's reasons for taking on this Action Project now -- why the project and its goals are high among your current priorities:

The reason for undertaking this project is twofold: first, the university’s strategic direction is to develop a school of allied health; second, this is an identified and documented need nationally, in the greater Kansas City area, and within the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System (SCLHS), our key healthcare partner.  Given  the two SCL sponsorships in education and healthcare, this project addresses Criteriion I descriptors  related to  mission-driven student learning and development, over-all intellectual climate of the institution, and new programs to facilitate student learning.  It represents responsive academic programming in terms of strategic collaborations (SCHLS) , market demand, currency of curriculum, and student need, all high priorities for USM..

E. List the organizational areas - -institutional departments, programs, divisions, or units -- most affected by or involved in this Action Project:

This two-phased project will most directly impact and strengthen the natural science department with our own undergraduates feeding the program. Moreover, these undergraduates as well as our nursing students would have access to the cadaver lab providing an educational experience to which most undergraduates do not have access. In Phase One the  action project task force will consult with the director of facilities for placement and renovations; DPT consultants from the national accrediting organization for facility demands and curricular needs; nursing and science faculty for curricular and facilities coordination,  the academic vice president for appropriate approval processes, and the chief finanical officer  for assistance in building the draft budget. In Phase Two of the project, the academic dean will oversee the governing and accreditation processes,  hiring the new director who, in turn, will be responsible for staffing the program, equiping the lab, building the curriculum and the network of clinical site providers. Marketing will cordinate with SCLHS to develop a marketing plan.

F. Name and describe briefly the key organizational process(es) that you expect this Action Project to change or improve:

The DPT will be USM’s first doctoral program. Appropriate academic policies will need to be created and approved.  Further, having learned from instituting a nursing program, USM will now have the opportunity to systematize its processes for dealing with a large number of clinical partners (80-90).

G. Explain the rationale for the length of time planned for this Action Project (from kickoff to target completion):

The timeline is shaped by the need to do an in depth feasibility study, remodel as necessary, hire an experienced and qualified program director, apply for change in institutional status through AQIP and meet the standards for national accreditation.

H. Describe how you plan to monitor how successfully your efforts on this Action Project are progressing:

The key-monitoring tool for this action project is the established timeline that is monitored by the president. The first milestone is the completion of the feasibility study which details the market, the step cost, the ROI, a five year business plan, an exit strategy and the risks of proceeding  or not proceeding with the project. The feasibility study will be made available for input from entire USM community. If the feasibility study returns with a negative answer, this action project will be ended. If the study finds it appropriate for the project to proceed, the monitoring will return to the timeline.

I. Describe the overall "outcome" measures or indicators that will tell you whether this Action Project has been a success or failure in achieving its goals:

The success of Phase One of this action project will be measured initially by the completion of in depth feasibility study that allows the university to make an informed decision. Success in Phase Two will  be measured by the establishment of an accredited DPT program that  meets established enrollment and ROI goals and whose graduates meet established learning outcomes.

J. Other information (e.g., publicity, sponsor or champion, etc.):

Marketing plan will be built in coordination with the SCLHS marketing staff. The president will continue to build and nurture relationships with the system and hospital leadership.

Last Action Project Update: 2008-09-08


A. Describe the past year's accomplishments and the current status of this Action Project.

The first phase of this two-phased project involved a thorough feasibility study intended to demonstrate the capacity for USM to proceed with its first doctoral program. The feasibility study was completed over a year ago and the appropriate internal governance process has been completed.  Phase II has been stymied for lack of a program administrator. According to the accrediting body, CPTA/APTA, the program administrator must have a terminal education degree (Ph.D.), a terminal degree in physical therapy (DPT) and faculty status. They would consider a MA if the person had plans to make the transition to DPT.  We have tried for over 18 months to identify a qualified program administrator without success. We hired a consultant from WGT Consulting to help us identify candidates after all our marketing efforts had failed.  She worked with the national accrediting body, CPTA/APTA, to design marketing materials that the head of APTA took to the national convention for us, to assure that our salary was competitive for our area of the country, etc.  The materials were also sent to targeted schools. Potential candidates received personal emails and letters. All those who responded received a personal phone call (three responded). We have also engaged our partnership with the SCLHS Health System. They have identified plenty of clinical sites, adjuncts, and even some equipment, but no one with a terminal education degree who qualified for faculty status. We have enlisted the help of the university community, both faculty and staff. Again, without success. We have also visited with the various rehabilitation facilities in our area to spread the word.

B. Describe how the institution involved people in work on this Action Project.

There was wide consultation and involvement in Phase I of this process as documented below. We have continued to engage the university community, trustees, and our various partners in helping us identify a qualified candidate. The Vice President of Academic Affairs has followed up on all leads and reported the outcome back to the person in the university community who made the suggestion so the person would know his/her input was valued.

Phase I
An AQIP Subcommittee led the study, chaired by the USM President, with the Academic Vice President and appropriate faculty and staff representation involved. The process involved the following external and internal consultations and governance: External 1. Committee members consulted with representatives from a number of institutions offering DPT programs to become informed of the pertinent issues and challenges related to our consideration of such a program; 2. Initial conversation with AQIP for advice since the DPT program would require a change in institutional status; 3. Consulted with the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System to assess their current and projected need for DPT’s, the possibility for clinical sites and scholarships; 4. A representative from the University of Kansas DPT program visited campus to critique and offer suggestions related to our facility design for a DPT Program; 5. Committee members consulted with and remain in consultation with CAPTA/APTA to become informed on standards to be met and all aspects of the accreditation process ; 6. Efforts to secure funding in the form of a substantial monetary gift to support start up and implementation of the program were successful. Internal 1. The AQIP Subcommittee held town hall meetings open to all faculty and staff regarding issues and implications for the university in launching a DPT program; 2. The AQIP Subcommittee consulted with appropriate staff relative to infrastructure and facility issues; 3. Informal updates on process and progress were shared with faculty and staff through the Administrative Council, Roundtable, University Assembly, and Faculty Senate; 4. The AQIP Committee, in consultation with the CFO, designed a business plan with a five-year budget; 5. The president continually updated the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees on the progress of this Action Project, and the AVP included updates of the process in the quarterly AVP reports to the Board of Trustees; 6. The DPT Program Proposal was approved through a formal governance process following the procedures outlined in the USM Faculty Handbook and the Board of Trustees By-laws: a. Academic Affairs Committee of the Faculty Senate; b. Faculty Senate; c. Board of Trustees

C. Describe your planned next steps for this Action Project.

Our next step, unless AQIP has a different suggestion for us, is to cancel or suspend this project until a qualified candidate has been hired.

D. Describe any "effective practice(s)" that resulted from your work on this Action Project.

We had planned to complete this project in phases: feasibility, governance, hiring of a program administrator and other essential personnel, and implementation, including remodeling, purchasing equipment, etc. Staging the project has saved us from investing in a program that has yet to produce any return.

E. What challenges, if any, are you still facing in regards to this Action Project?

Our primary challenge remains identifying and hiring a qualified candidate.

F. If you would like to discuss the possibility of AQIP providing you help to stimulate progress on this action project, explain your need(s) here and tell us who to contact and when?

We would welcome any advice or suggestions on identifying a qualified candidate. We have reaffirmed that there is still a market for a new program in our area and would like to be able to help fill that need.