University Showcase: Elon
A few weeks ago, I had the good fortune of visiting Elon University located in central North Carolina. This regional liberal arts college was always considered a “hidden gem” with a picturesque campus, inviting student culture, and relatively affordable price tag. The Princeton Review and NY Times have both awarded Elon the title of “most beautiful campus” in past rankings. In 2001, the sleepy and charming Elon College was transformed into a University, as the secret was out and national attention poured in. Lest it sound like I am being a little effusive in my praise it is due to an inescapable bias: I am a proud graduate of Elon class of 1994. Now that I am done with my nostalgic rant lets focus on the purpose of my visit.
In 1997, Elon started a physical therapy masters program, which blossomed into a full DPT program in 2003. The program places a strong emphasis on science, research, critical thinking, and a compassionate disposition. In 2012, the impressive Gerald L Francis Center was built on campus with key input from faculty. The input ensured that the beautiful classroom setting was versatile, interactive, and modern. The building was an old Virginia Ham Company but you would never know it from looking at it now. My tour guide for the visit was Dean of Social Sciences Elizabeth Rogers. Dr. Rogers was a gracious host who gave me an in-depth look at the new facility and the students who inhibit it. The program offers 48 weeks of clinical practice with a 24 week internship at over 500 partnering facilities mainly in North Carolina. The Department Chair is Stephen Folger, who has a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Folger has been at Elon for 15 years and recently won the school’s prestigious Daniels-Danieley Award for excellence in teaching.
Underscoring the programs commitment to compassion is a strong capacity for charitable endeavors. One shining example of this can be found with their affiliation with Wheels for the World. This organization distributes refurbished wheelchairs to developing countries and to date has shipped over 52 thousand wheelchairs to over 100 countries. Numerous Elon DPT students have traveled to Romania to deliver and train recipients on proper use. The program is also heavily involved with the Special Olympics as well as a program to help those with disabilities live out a dream to be a dancer. Elon DPT has gained immense national stature in its short history just like the school in general. It was fun being back at this place I called home for 4 invigorating years and to see its growth in the form of a powerhouse DPT department. Until next time…