From outside the large paned glass windows of her office, Dr. Peggy Trueblood has a perfect view of the track and field complex, and when the sun sets in the evening, the Central Valley skies come alive with color. Just four years ago, that building did not even exist. Now in its fourth year, Trueblood will stare out into the Central Valley horizon for the last time as faculty and chair in the Department of Physical Therapy.
Her next adventure will bring her to Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Yakima, Wa. There, she will serve as founding program director of the new Doctor of Physical Therapy program.
Although she is leaving the Valley behind, a piece of her will always remain here – and her bulldog pride flows deeper than ever.
“I will miss the people,” Trueblood said. “I have had such a fulfilling career here at Fresno State with so many colleagues and friends that I will always treasure. And I will miss the campus. I’ve watched it become such a beautiful place. So much has changed around here. The library wasn’t completed. We were in the San Ramon building and now we’re in this building. That’s the kind of things that makes you enjoy your job. You see progress for the good.”
Her seasoned time at the University began in 1994 as faculty teaching in the area of neuroanatomy, neurophysiology and research methods, among others. Ten years later, Trueblood became chair of the department and its program, which has consistently been ranked among the best in the state for its quality and affordability.
Trueblood says her time teaching remains her most favorite and cherished memories while on campus. To date, she keeps in touch with the hundreds of students that she’s encountered, taught or mentored throughout the years.
“I loved teaching in the classroom and interacting with the students, who were always just so appreciative of the knowledge they were gaining,” Trueblood said.
In 2015, when the then-new Physical Therapy and Intercollegiate Athletics building opened on the northwest side of campus, a new era for the Physical Therapy department opened up. Equipped with state-of-the-art lab space and conference rooms, the completion of the building was a long time in the making for Trueblood, who worked closely with administrators to make the department’s vision come to life.
“The administrators really cared about what our department wanted for space and really listened to our ideas,” Trueblood said. “It was great to be in on the planning stage and then watch it become reality!”
The space is now equipped to prepare the next generation of physical therapists. For the department, having lab space and classrooms in the same building has set the program apart from others throughout the state.
Trueblood was around when the physical therapy program phased out its master’s program and was at the helm when it transitioned into an independent Doctor of Physical Therapy program in 2012 and achieved accreditation. The very first class of the doctorate program graduated in May 2015 – just a few months before the doors to the new Physical Therapy and Intercollegiate Athletics building officially opened its doors the following September.
As a practicing physical therapist herself, Trueblood knows the value a doctoral program will have on not just students, but the valley as a whole.
While on campus Trueblood remained an active member of the campus, joining many committees over the years from graduate committees to University budget committees to search committees to heading up the Chairs Council.
But among her proudest accomplishments at Fresno State is developing the Senior Awareness Fall Education (SAFE) Central Valley Program, which has helped countless older adults since it was created in 2005 through a grant from the California Wellness Foundation. It remains one of the few programs in the Valley that helps older adults improve their balance.
Truebloood also helped develop the Gait, Balance and Mobility Research and Education Center on campus in an effort to provide more hands-on clinical experience for students.
“I wanted them to be exposed to patients with neurological impairments, so they could ultimately learn better,” Trueblood said.
Proceeding Trueblood as chair is Dr. Jenna Sawdon-Bea. Trueblood said Sawdon-Bea doesn’t need a whole lot of guidance, but one piece of advice she would give her is to simply “Do what you love.”
That’s something Trueblood will continue to do as she says goodbye to the Central Valley and heads north.
To learn more about the Physical Therapy program at Fresno, visit their website.