A new College of Health Professions will open at Anderson University in June, officials said Monday.
The new college will include four schools: the university’s existing school of nursing, and new schools of human performance, allied health and physical therapy.
“Anderson University made an internal commitment four years ago to develop academic programs in the health professions to supply health providers and the public with competent and compassionate health care professionals,” Anderson University President Evans Whitaker said in a news release. “Today, with state-of-the-art facilities and a distinguished faculty, we are in an unprecedented position to launch this comprehensive College of Health Professions to meet a wide variety of educational needs, and in turn, to serve the people of our region.”
The university’s existing department of kinesiology will reorganize into the school of human performance. The existing department of human services will become part of the school of allied health.
The dean of the new college will be Donald Peace, who has experience as a respiratory therapist. He has also served as a regional director of South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and as director of community health clinics for AnMed Health.
University Provost Tim Smith said combining the different schools of health care under one college allows students to learn from one another as they are trained in related professions. Just as health professionals such as doctors and physical therapists work together, so will the students.
The new school of physical therapy is under development for approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Anderson University spokesman Barry Ray said if the program is approved in a timely manner, the school will open in 2018, and most of the classes will be offered at the University Center of Greenville. The University Center is an academic collaboration of Anderson University and other higher education institutions.
From the state level, there is a real need for physical therapists, and the new school will help fill that need, university officials said. Smith said national statistics from a couple of years ago rank South Carolina as fifth from the bottom among the states in terms of number of physical therapists per capita.
“The development of this academic program is important because workforce studies demonstrate an increasing need for physical therapists in South Carolina to address the aging population,” Smith said.
Once the school of physical therapy is approved, it will be the first one in the Upstate. Currently, there are two other graduate schools of physical therapy in South Carolina — one in Columbia and one in the Charleston area.
Smith said he cannot yet determine exactly how much operating the new college will cost the university or how many new faculty he will need for graduate school of physical therapy.
This coming fall, Anderson University will also implement a new graduate program for its nursing school to include a Master of Science in Nursing and a doctorate in nursing practice. The new program will offer 17 tracks of study in fields such as family nurse practitioner, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, nursing education and executive leadership. Most of the classes will also take place at the University Center of Greenville.
Anderson University will not need to build any classrooms and tuition will not be affected because of the addition of programs and the restructuring of several departments, Ray said.