The Western Carolina University Board of Trustees has approved David Hudson, associate dean of WCU’s College of Health and Human Sciences, to hold the title of Western Carolina University Distinguished Professor of Physical Therapy.
Approval of the appointment of Hudson, which is effective immediately, came during the board’s first quarterly meeting of the 2017-18 academic year Friday, Sept. 15. With the appointment, Hudson also moves into the role of head of the Department of Physical Therapy.
The distinguished professorship, endowed at $500,000, was established through $250,000 in collective gifts from numerous health care organizations across Western North Carolina combined with matching funds from a state program initiated by the General Assembly to encourage private support of public institutions of higher education.
The professorship is designed to strengthen the quality of instruction in WCU’s doctoral program in physical therapy, enhance the applied research productivity of faculty in the program, and increase clinical services and outreach by university faculty and students to under-served WNC patients in need of physical therapy services.
Hudson, a tenured professor of physical therapy, has a national reputation in the profession of physical therapy that makes him especially well-suited to fill the distinguished professorship position, said Provost Alison Morrison-Shetlar.
“With his outstanding record of teaching, service and scholarship, Dr. Hudson comes before the Board of Trustees highly recommended for this appointment,” Morrison-Shetlar said. “He has demonstrated personal and professional commitment to student learning and exceptional dedication to providing high-quality learning experiences, both in the classroom and in clinical settings.”
After earning his bachelor’s degree in physical therapy at Ithaca College, Hudson earned his master’s degree in exercise science and biomechanics and his doctorate in biomechanics and movement science, both at the University of Delaware.
Prior to joining the WCU faculty in 2007, he taught at the University of Delaware. A member of the Gait and Clinical Movement Analysis Society, he has published extensively in scholarly journals and presented at professional conferences across the U.S.
Hudson is highly respected nationally as an expert in human movement and biomechanics, and he regularly volunteers as supervising clinician and mentor for doctoral students in WCU’s student-run pro bono physical therapy clinic, said Doug Keskula, dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences.
“Through his involvement with scholarship, teaching and service, David Hudson has demonstrated a strong commitment to the growth of WCU, making sustained and meaningful contributions to the physical therapy profession, to the College of Health and Human Sciences, and to the university as a whole,” Keskula said.
Hudson said he is eager to roll up his sleeves and get to work as department head. “My first priority is to shepherd the expansion of the doctoral program in physical therapy to include 16 additional students at the Biltmore Park instructional site,” he said. “Over the next three to five years, my goal is to see greater national recognition for our excellent program and to become a model for other programs at institutions that are similar to WCU in size and mission.”
Hudson also plans to continue his scholarly work as a physical therapist and biomechanist toward a better understanding of human gait and to collaborate with faculty and student colleagues in WCU’s College of Engineering and Technology on the development of innovative devices that help people with movement dysfunction improve their quality of life.