On November 2, the College of Health and Human Services will host the 2016 Community Heroes Awards to recognize the unsung heroes in our community whose actions, thoughts and words have had a transformative impact in our region. For the rest of the month, we will be highlighting our  nine honorees in our Community Heroes Series.


duttarerjan2Name: Jan Duttarer, Ph.D., P.T.

Occupation: Part-time faculty in the Department of Physical Therapy at Fresno State

Nominated by: The Department of Physical Therapy

Personal hero: “Helen Hislop, PT, Ph.D. – a visionary person who was always looking ahead 20 years to see where, as a profession, we should be and developing plans to get us there. I worked with her for 10 years and she really taught me how to be a great faculty member and teacher.”

For more than 50 years, Dr. Jan Duttarer has been a pivotal player in the physical therapy profession. Even after her many decades of service to the field, she has no plans of slowing down. Every Tuesday through Thursday she can be found at Fresno State’s Physical Therapy lab room, teaching aspiring young physical therapy students – each on their quest to obtaining a doctoral degree.

In 2004, Duttarer initially retired from teaching at Fresno State, after 20 years.  During the last 4 years of that tenure, she served as department chair. Just three years after retiring, Duttarer was back on campus with the intent of helping the new chair, Dr. Peggy Trueblood, acclimate to the changing Physical Therapy program, which was transitioning from a master’s to doctoral program.

The decision to come back was an easy one and she hasn’t looked back since.

That’s pretty much how Duttarer’s career has played out. Her passion for the profession simply keeps her going.

She received her bachelor’s degree in Physical Therapy from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1963 and went on to the complete the Physical Therapy Credential Program at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. During that time, she was exposed to research projects that investigated the effects of exercise for children with cystic fibrosis and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Having worked with kids with handicaps before, this was an area that greatly intrigued her.

“I like working with people and I don’t know what better service we can provide than to help them be more functional and continue to live the lifestyle they want,” Duttarer said.

After passing the state licensing exam, she began her practice career at Rancho Los Amigos, a nationally renowned rehabilitation center.  As a senior therapist on the spinal cord injury unit, she published one of the first guides for management of patients with spinal cord injuries. She also helped develop the first obstacle driving course for individuals who drove vehicles with hand controls. It was at that time she met her husband, Duane “Bud” Duttarer, who was the president of the optimist club overseeing the project.

Duttarer would later discover that clinical education was her calling.  At Rancho, she became the clinical instructor for graduate and undergraduate therapists from across the nation., Her passion for teaching took root, leading to her completing a master’s degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Southern California. She became a clinical assistant professor at the University in 1971.

Even with a growing family and full-time career, Duttarer still had the desire to do more for her profession, which lead to her 20-year involvement with the American Physical Therapy Association. She became Secretary  and served on the Board of Directors of the newly created California Chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association in 1972 and over the next four years, would go on to serve in a variety of roles, including stints as President and Chief Delegate to the APTA House of Delegates.

During her time in APTA, she helped persuade the House of Delegates to adopt a master’s degree as the minimum entry-level degree for physical therapy education and to establish the Physical Therapy Foundation to fund and support the development of physical therapy research, among other notable achievements.

Due to her considerable involvement and dedication, Duttarer was awarded the Charles Magistro Award for Outstanding Service – one of the most distinguishing honors given by the California Chapter of the APTA.

She counts her involvement with APTA as one of her greatest memories in her 50-year physical therapy career.

Never one to pause for too long, Duttarer returned to her academic roots, completing Ph.D. in Physiology from the Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans in 1984. Soon after, she was recruited to Fresno State, to help then-chair, Darlene Stewart, build the Physical Therapy program to be one of the premier educational programs in the state.

In addition to teaching at Fresno State, Duttarer remains active with the Physical Therapy Alumni and Friend’s Chapter of the Fresno State Alumni Association, serving as president. She works diligently to build a thriving alumni connection and keep nearly 400 alumni in touch through the chapter’s social media.

Her commitment to the physical therapy profession, as well as Fresno State, can best be summed up through her work in the classroom.

“For me, teaching is similar to the concept expressed in the proverb ‘give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime,’” Duttarer said. “I could choose to treat patients, which I love, or I could teach others and positively affect the lives of so many more.”

The 2016 Community Heroes Awards, which celebrates heroes from each of the seven departments, as well as centers and institutes within our college, will be held on November 2, 2016 at Fresno State. For more information on the event, contact Sandra Daily at 559.278.3603 or sandrada@csufresno.edu or click here.