• For more than 60 years, USC’s Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy has been redefining the physical therapy profession through excellence in research, practice and clinical expertise. And, with the field’s top clinicians and researchers engaged in educating tomorrow’s physical therapy innovators, leadership is clearly more than the USC standard – it’s the USC mandate.

    “There is a sense that people at USC have the responsibility to be leaders,” Associate Dean and Division Chair James Gordon, EdD, PT, FAPTA, explained. “Faculty, staff, students, alumni and everybody involved at USC step up and take on the mantle of leadership. That expectation of leadership changes people.”

    And, for years, USC’s expectation of leadership has motivated monumental changes in the physical therapy field. In 1976, USC developed the first-ever PhD in Physical Therapy degree program. In the 1980s and 90s, former chair and professor of the Division, Helen Hislop introduced the concept of Biokinesiology – the study of movement from a biological or health-oriented perspective, to the physical therapy field. Also in the 1990s, the Division led the effort in physical therapy education to make the transition to the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree, and it is projected that as soon as 2010 every professional physical therapy program will offer the DPT degree.

    Innovations at their inception, these contributions coupled with specialized residency programs, ongoing clinical trials and comprehensive research focus prove that USC’s expectation of leadership is being fulfilled. The key to USC’s ongoing success is its core value that leadership like this is only sustainable when it is supported by rigorous training and development – both for students and for faculty and staff.

    “There is a strong emphasis on the idea that the expectation of leadership is not enough,” Dr. Gordon said. “We work hard to develop leadership at USC. It’s not an accident, and leadership like this doesn’t just happen.”

    The Division provides ongoing leadership training for faculty, and works especially hard to develop leadership in its students, class officers and representatives by sending them to local, state and national meetings and conferences. It should be no surprise to learn, then, that many USC alumni and faculty hold leadership positions within the APTA including Cheryl Resnik, DPT - past President of CPTA.

    “Leaders like this will help us to navigate through the challenging times ahead and will lead us to be a successful profession in the near and far future,” Dr. Gordon added. “We can’t afford not to develop leaders – people who see the big picture.”