UCA physical therapy program receives $100,000 gift

The University of Central Arkansas physical therapy program has received a $100,000 charitable remainder unitrust from Dr. Sandy ’77 and Joyce Quillen.

The estate gift will provide for the creation of the endowed William S. and Joyce D. Quillen Physical Therapy Scholarship, in honor of his late wife.

UCA alumnus Sandy Quillen

A legacy gift from UCA alumnus Sandy Quillen will create a scholarship program for UCA’s physical therapy department in memory of Quillen’s late wife.

The scholarship was created to provide significant financial support toward the success of a physical therapy student with preference given to first-generation students demonstrating financial need.

Quillen realized through his experiences as a practicing physician, a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy and as an academic program administrator that there were segments of society which are just now gaining access to college.

“They say opportunity knocks, but you’ve got to open the door – for better or worse I plowed ahead. It wouldn’t have happened without a lot of people having made a lot of investments in myself. This gift that my wife and I have made to UCA is one of the ways I can start to repay all that was done on my behalf,” Quillen said.

A unitrust is a planned gift that provides an income stream during the life of the donor with the remaining trust payable to the UCA Foundation.

Estate planning, or planned giving, allows donors to make larger and more impactful gifts than they ever thought possible through bequests, retirement assets, trusts, stocks and bonds, property or insurance policies.

Dr. William S. (Sandy) Quillen came to UCA, then the State College of Arkansas, in 1975 after having first completed a Bachelor of Science degree in health and physical education from Springfield College in Massachusetts and a Master of Education degree in developmental and adapted physical education from the University of Missouri.

With only 36 physical therapy programs across the country in the mid-70s, competition to gain admission was extremely high. On Quillen’s third admission attempt, he was accepted to all of the schools that he applied to including UCA. Quillen chose to return to Arkansas because of family connections in Monticello, his parent’s hometown.

The UCA Department of Physical Therapy began graduating students in 1972 as the first PT program in the state of Arkansas. Joe Finnell, who was brought to Arkansas by Baptist Health, established the new program with Jeff Farris, dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts and Sciences.

The UCA physical therapy department will celebrate its 50th anniversary on April 29. More information on this momentous event is available at uca.edu/pt/The50thEvent.

Quillen received a Navy scholarship during his time at UCA earning his Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy in 1977. Upon graduation, he became a commissioned officer in the Navy and was assigned to the Naval Hospital, Camp Lejeune.

He would continue his academic pursuits throughout his professional career earning a master’s in health services management from Golden Gate University, a Doctor of Philosophy in sports medicine from the University of Virginia. He would later receive a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of Montana in 2011, exemplifying his dedication to continually gain knowledge in the field of physical therapy.

While serving in the Navy Quillen fulfilled a variety of assignments including physical therapy department head at the United States Naval Academy, division officer aboard the USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) aiding Operation Desert Shield-Desert Storm, and as Navy faculty and Assistant Director of the US Army, Baylor University Graduate program in Physical Therapy. He retired from active duty in 1994 having earned the rank of commander.

Upon his military retirement, Quillen held a variety of academic positions in physical therapy including as faculty at Texas Women’s University, Founding Chair at Mount St Joseph University, and department chair at Indiana University. In 2004 he was appointed professor and director of the USF Health School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of South Florida where he served until 2019.

Quillen was one of the first American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties certified Sports Clinical Specialists (SCS), having served multiple years as both a member and as chair. He currently serves as a site visitor and member of the Accreditation Services Council of the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency & Fellowship Education.

Additionally, Quillen served as a gubernatorial appointee to the Florida Board of Physical Therapy Practice, completed a three-year appointment on the Education Committee of the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy, and three-year term of service as a Congressional Appointee to the Veteran’s Administration Federal Advisory Committee on Prosthetics and Special Disabilities programs, and a three-year term as an Academy of Physical Therapy Education (APTE) representative to the American Physical Therapy Association’s Education Leadership Partnership.

He has also made significant scholarly contributions to the field of physical therapy including co-authoring textbooks, publishing numerous journal articles, and presentations in the area of sports physical therapy.

Most recently he has received the prestigious Ronald G. Peyton Award. The Peyton Award acknowledges and honors a member of the American Academy of Sports Physical Therapy who has made a distinguished contribution to the specialty of sports physical therapy.

“Dr. Sandy Quillen’s contributions to physical therapy and to PT education have been outstanding, far-reaching, and have positively impacted both the profession and the innumerable patients, students, and colleagues he has influenced across the U.S. and beyond,” said Dr. Nancy Reese, dean of the UCA College of Health and Behavioral Sciences.

Quillen continues to impact physical therapy in retirement through mentoring former students, maintaining relationships with colleagues, and through focused philanthropy. When not working on a project, Quillen can be found flying his plane in the beautiful blue skies above his home in Key West, Florida.

“I’m lucky that over the course of my career, I have had the opportunity to work with people that are all names in the fields of physical therapy, athletic training, sports medicine, and orthopedics,” Quillen said.

Reflecting on his career success, Quillen’s advice to current physical therapy students is for them to challenge themselves to never stop learning from the day they begin their first job to the day they retire.

To learn more about creating your legacy through planned giving and how you can support UCA’s comprehensive capital campaign, UCA NOW: Impact Arkansas and Beyond, please visit uca.edu/now or contact Joan Shofner, Associate Vice President for Campaign and Legacy Planning at jshofner@uca.edu or 501-450-3421.

By Russ Hancock