SPT&RS 20th Celebration and Alumni Weekend 2018

The University of South Florida (USF) School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences (SPT&RS) celebrated its 20th Anniversary and hosted their first Alumni Weekend. The two-day event was held on October 26-27 at the School on the USF Health Campus in North Tampa. The weekend was full of social activities, continuing education courses, and ended with a 20th Celebration Dinner and Alumni Awards.

The kickoff to the festivities was a Wine and Cheese mixer on Friday evening with special guests and acknowledgements of the Schools accomplishments over the past 20 years. Dr. Charles Lockwood, MD MHCM, Senior Vice President, USF Health and Dean, Morsani College of Medicine announced a $5,000 donation to the School to start the first USF SPT&RS Alumni Scholarship Fund. The focus of the fund is for alumni to donate to help future DPT students with the cost of their education. Betty Castor, Former USF President during the founding of the school spoke to the importance of having a physical therapy program in Tampa, how beneficial physical therapy is to healthcare, and her recent positive interactions with a USF DPT alumni.

Top left picture: Dr. Laura Lee “Dolly” Swisher, Top right picture: Dr. Charles Lockwood

Bottom left picture: Betty Castor , Bottom right picture : Dr. Kevin Sneed, Dr. Laura Lee “Dolly” Swisher, Betty Castor, Dr. Donna Peterson, and Dr. Charles Lockwood

The weekend continued Saturday with a Keynote from Dr. Cynthia Zadai, PT, DPT, MS, FAPTA and Professor Emeritus, Department of Physical Therapy, MGH Health Institute for Health Professions. The School also offered three CEU courses throughout the weekend taught by Dr. Karen Skop, PT, DPT, MS, Dr. Jeannie Stephenson, PT, PhD, NCS, Dr. Douglas Haladay, PT, DPT, PhD, CSCS, and Dr. Cynthia Zadai, PT, DPT, MS, FAPTA.  Lunch Saturday afternoon was their first ever Cheeseburger in Paradise – Alumni Edition bringing in a School tradition. Cheeseburger in Paradise is an annual tradition which allows the students, faculty, and staff a time to relax and connect outside of the classroom.


(Pictures from various CEU’s and Cheeseburger in Paradise – Alumni Edition Lunch)

The weekend concluded with a 20th Dinner Celebration and Alumni Awards at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Alumni, faculty, staff, and guests gathered at Busch Gardens on Saturday night for a dinner, and a night full of reminiscing and laughs. Dr. Greg Nicolosi, Former USF Health Leadership Member open with remarks on the history of the school, selection of a building, and hiring faculty to create the best team. Dr. Martha Clendenin, the founding School Director in 1998  discussed her role in starting and creating the path for the School. She provided insightful and humorous comments on the early years of the program, the renovation of the building, and filling in a pool that existed in their current courtyard. Lastly, Dr. Catherine Page gave a few words on her role in setting up the Clinical Education component.  The School closed the night out by awarding their first ever alumni awards, which were given to:


(20th Dinner, Dr. Greg Nicolosi, Dr. Martha Clendenin, and Dr. Catherine Page)

Outstanding Alum—Clinical Practice

Jamie Fox, PT, DPT, OCS

Tiffany Gooding Williams PT, PCS

Outstanding Alum—Service to the Profession

Juan Jose Villeda, PT, DPT, OCS

Outstanding Alum— Research

Jason Highsmith, PhD, DPT, CP, FAAOP

There was one final surprise before the weekend came to an end for Dr. Laura Lee “Dolly” Swisher.  The leadership team for the School presented Dr. Swisher a new perpetual plaque and a renaming of the Deans Leadership Award to honor Dr. Swisher for being a founding faculty member, her current role as School Director, and her expertise in ethics and professionalism. The Deans Leadership award has been given out yearly since 2001 at each graduation to a student who excelled both in academic and clinical education, has exceptional professional behavior, and classroom and community leadership. The School leadership revealed that the award has since been renamed the Laura Lee “Dolly” Swisher Ethical and Professional Leadership Awards.

(Dr. Swisher receiving her perpetual plaque for the “Laura Lee “Dolly” Swisher Ethical and Professional Leadership Award)

If you would like to make a donation to the USF School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences Alumni Scholarship Fund you can do here: https://giving.usf.edu/physicaltherapy