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University of Charleston to create new Rehabilitation Science and Athletics Center

West Virginia Press Association

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – While many schools are downsizing, the University of Charleston is growing. UC is launching new graduate degree programs in occupational and physical therapy to meet the increasing demands for rehabilitation services in the city, state, and region. The Morrison Rehabilitation Science and Athletics Center in Gorman Hall will be the home for these new programs.  A multi-million-dollar renovation will include modern occupational and physical therapy labs, quiet study rooms, and lounge and meeting spaces, ensuring students have the tools needed for success. The facility will also house a classroom and faculty and staff offices. Adjacent spaces will include new and renovated visitor locker rooms, laundry facilities, and weight training rooms for student athletes.  

The two new programs will be part of UC’s School of Health Sciences.  

“Forecasted jobs in occupational and physical therapy in the state and region far exceed the number of students graduating from existing state programs throughout this decade,” shared School of Health Sciences Dean Mindy Smith.  “Adding these two healthcare programs to our existing portfolio is consistent with our strategy to design and deliver new programs that lead to high-paying jobs in in-demand fields.”  

UC has raised over $10 million to fund the startup costs of the Master of Occupational Therapy and Doctor of Physical Therapy programs and the renovation work for the Rehabilitation Science and Athletics Center.  

“As a private independent university, we fuel innovation through external funding,” said UC President Marty Roth. “We are fortunate to have the support of area foundations and individuals who believe in the power of higher education. Their investment in UC is an investment in future jobs and quality of care.” 

The Center will be named after the late J. Holmes Morrison, the longest serving Chair of UC’s Board of Trustees, a renowned area banker, and a community icon.  

Current UC Board of Trustees Chair Greg Burton stated, “Holmes helped lead the University for many years. His passion for healthcare and innovation makes the Center a perfect way to honor and memorialize his legacy.”

Lead donors for the project include Lisa and Larry Pack, the Maier Foundation, Encova Foundation, Martha Gaines and Russell Wehrle Memorial Foundation, HB Wehrle Foundation, John L. Dickinson Family, Jessica and Pat Graney, Kim and Greg Burton, the Hearst Foundation, Fonda and John Elliot, and Marion and Richard Sinclair. Funding also includes a federal Health Resources and Services Administration grant through the Congressionally Directed Spending process.

In addition, UC is proudly establishing the J. Holmes Morrison Endowed Scholarship fund. Scholarship funding will be made available to undergraduate students pursuing rehabilitation science careers.   

“We are dedicated to making a great UC education accessible and affordable,” said Roth. “UC students regularly graduate with less debt than those graduating from other West Virginia colleges and universities. The Morrison Scholarship will help us continue this tradition.”  Contributions may be made to the scholarship fund at any time.

The Master of Occupational Therapy program is currently enrolling students. The anticipated start date of the Doctor of Physical Therapy program is Fall 2026. Pickering Associates and Pray Construction are leading the Rehabilitation Science and Athletics Center project, with completion expected by 2026.

For questions or more information about the Rehabilitation Science and Athletic Training Center, please contact Ella Curry, UC Vice President for Marketing and Communications at [email protected].

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The University of Charleston is an independent university located in the capital of West Virginia, with a second location in Beckley, WV.  UC serves approximately 2,620 students from 49 states and 53 countries. The University has five distinct schools: The School of Arts and Sciences, the Bert Bradford School of Health Sciences (which includes the Physician Assistant Program), the School of Business, the School of Leadership, and the UC School of Pharmacy. The University’s mission is to educate each student for a life of productive work, enlightened living, and community involvement.

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