The Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Fresno State received a $900,000 gift from the Red and Nancy Arnold Foundation to support students enrolled in the program through 2018. The gift will be used to offset clinical fees and tuition, as well as laboratory upgrades.

An additional $50,000 in matching funds from the College of Health and Human Services’ Presidential Collaborative program brings the total gifts to $950,000. The Presidential Collaborative, a dollar-for-dollar matching fundraiser, was created to provide fellowship funding to students in the College’s two doctorate programs, as well as its Honors Scholars program.

Dr. Peggy Trueblood, chair in the Department of Physical Therapy.
Dr. Peggy Trueblood, chair in the Department of Physical Therapy.

“This gift will make a profound impact to the success of the students in our Doctor of Physical Therapy program,” said Dr. Peggy Trueblood, chair in the Department of Physical Therapy. “The physical therapy program was started in the 1970s to meet the demand for physical therapists here in the Central Valley. Ever since we moved to doctoral education, the cost of the program has increased drastically, making it even harder for students to reach their goal of being a physical therapist due to financial constraints alone.”

According to Trueblood, students pay approximately $65,000 in tuition for the three-year doctoral program. That amount does not include required books, uniforms, lab fees and traveling costs for conferences.

As of January 2015, students must hold a doctoral degree to become a licensed physical therapist according to the Commission on Accreditation for Physical Therapy Education. One of only three doctorate programs at Fresno State, the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program is the only one of its kind in Central California. Since 2012, an average of 32 students have been enrolled each year. The first class will graduate in spring 2015.

“Many of our students are first- or second-generation college students,” Trueblood said. “To graduate with a doctoral degree in physical therapy is an incredible accomplishment. This generous gift by the Red and Nancy Arnold Foundation puts each student just one step closer to achieving their goal.”

RiveraClassThe gift will be divided over the course of four years among first-, second- and third-year doctoral students to help cover program expenses and summer tuition. The inaugural cohort of 32 students will be the first to receive the funds this spring, with each student receiving $3,000. Another $5,000 will be given to first- and second-year students.

“This gift will facilitate my ability to finish my academic career at Fresno State, as well as support me throughout my final clinical internship, which will ultimately allow me to graduate,” said Brynne Altamirano, a third-year student from Hanford. “I will also be able to purchase books and school material, as well as begin to pay back some of the school loans I have taken out. I am very appreciative of this gift.”

In response to the gift, the Physical Therapy Alumni Chapter of the Fresno State Alumni Association and the Arnold Fellows will launch a fundraising campaign this spring in an effort to “pay it forward” for future students.

DSC_0328“As a graduate of the physical therapy program, Fresno State has afforded me the opportunity to do what I love in my professional life,” said Dr. Robert Bacci, a 1974 graduate. “I am proud to offer my support for future generations of physical therapists and invite my fellow alumni to join me in paying it forward.”

The Red and Nancy Arnold Foundation was established by Robert C. “Red” Arnold and his wife, Nancy P. Arnold of Madera. The Arnolds valued and appreciated the benefits of a college education, family members said. Red attended Fresno State for two years before transferring to the University of Southern California, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration. He made a living as a realtor, cattle rancher and businessman. Nancy was an alumna of Stanford University, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in economics.

Red passed away in 2006, followed by Nancy in 2010. Since 2010, the Red and Nancy Arnold Foundation has donated major gifts to various organizations in the Valley including Madera Community Hospital, Hinds Hospice, Madera Animal Shelter and the Salvation Army.

For more information, contact Dana Zupanovich Lucka at 559.278.5590.