Dunleavy and Maresh Receive 2024 Joe Finnell Distinguished Alumni Award

picture of Dr. Maresh

Dr. Twala Maresh

picture of Dr. Dunleavy

Dr. Kim Dunleavy

Dr. Kim Dunleavy and Dr. Twala Maresh are the 2024 recipients of the UCA Joe Finnell Distinguished Alumni Award.  We are honored to recognize these UCA grads who have made exemplary contributions to the profession of physical therapy while positively impacting the lives of so many patients, clients, students and colleagues with their skills, dedication, and love for the profession.

The Joe Finnell Distinguished Alumni Award (JFDAA) recognizes and honors UCA Physical Therapy alumni for outstanding contributions and impact to the profession or community. This year’s recipients are the 13th and 14th UCA alumni to receive the JFDAA.  Dr. Dunleavy and Dr. Maresh will be recognized at the 2024 DPT Convocation Ceremony at UCA in the Reynolds Performance Hall on Friday, August 9, 2024 at 2:00PM. The public is invited to attend.

Dr. Kim Dunleavy
Kim earned a post-professional Masters degree in physical therapy from UCA in 1992. She went on to receive a PhD in instructional technology from Wayne State University in 2008. She has been ABPTS certified in Orthopedic Physical Therapy since 1993 and has numerous other clinical certifications and credentials. She is currently a clinical professor of physical therapy at the University of Florida and has held numerous clinical practice roles in both inpatient and outpatient facilities in the United States and South Africa since 1985.

Dr. Dunleavy co-authored a book in 2019 titled, Therapeutic Exercise Prescription, has co-authored chapters in six other books and monographs, is a contributing author on almost 40 peer-reviewed publications, received numerous grant awards, and given many national and international scientific, continuing education and professional presentations.

Above all of this, Dr. Dunleavy’s greatest contributions have been her leadership and volunteer roles internationally that demonstrate her commitment to a greater good and the welfare of the human race. Her efforts on behalf of global physical therapy have positively impacted people in the countries of Haiti, Myanmar, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, and Vietnam. In each of these countries, her work has focused on how to advance the profession of physical therapy and how physical therapy can improve societal welfare.

In 2019, Kim was honored with the Societal Impact Award from the American Physical Therapy Association recognizing leaders who demonstrate commitment and dedication to addressing issues related to societal welfare.

Dr. Twala Maresh
Twala earned a Bachelors, post-professional Masters, & Doctor of physical therapy degrees all from UCA in 1983, 1998, and 2002. She became ABPTS certified in Neurologic Physical Therapy in 2011 and currently holds emeritus status as a neurologic specialist. She retired as a senior clinical instructor in the UCA PT Department in 2023 after serving on the faculty for 27 years, where she was also a two-time finalist for the UCA Teaching Excellence Award. Twala also held numerous clinical practice roles in Texas and Arkansas. Dr. Maresh’s long and successful career included both peer-reviewed and invited scholarly publications as well as numerous scholarly and professional presentations at the state and national level in area of her expertise, which is rehabilitation for patients with spinal cord injury.

For much of her career here at UCA, Dr. Maresh coordinated and operated an on-campus pro bono physical therapy clinic where she, along with hundreds of PT students over the years, treated patients from the community. Twala also served in leadership and volunteer roles in the American Physical Therapy Association and the Arkansas Spinal Cord Commission.

Twala’s reputation is an engaging and confident communicator & educator, an approachable and gifted mentor, and a dedicated servant to things bigger than herself that benefit the community. She was honored by the Arkansas chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association with the Distinguished Service Award in 2019.

Those who nominated Twala for our distinguished alumni award said this about her…
“One of Dr. Maresh’s greatest accomplishments was her impact on clinical practice for countless PT graduates. She provided foundational elements as they came into the program and continued to foster excellence in clinical practice as they continued through more advanced coursework. She has been the go-to physical therapist in Arkansas over the years for clinicians with questions related to spinal cord injury and rehabilitation, and she has elevated the level of practice through promoting excellence and a high standard of care.”

Another person commented that “…a unique thing that makes Dr. Maresh an outstanding and inspirational person is her tremendous school pride for UCA and the UCA Physical Therapy Department in particular. Her many years of mentoring the UCA Physical Therapy Club, and proudly advocating for the UCA Physical Therapy Program as the best in the state, exemplifies the program’s and Dr. Maresh’s commitment to excellence.”

The JFDAA Committee at UCA includes faculty, alumni and previous recipients of the JFDAA.  The selection is based on nominations, and it is planned to continue as an annual award with a call for nominations taking place early each Spring semester.  Past recipients of the JFDAA include:  Susan Appling, Nat Grubbs, Mary Anne Hart, James A. Hoyme, Cecile W. Kimmer, Barbara J. Lovett, William S. Quillen, Nancy Reese, Chris Throneberry, Lisa VanHoose, Mala H. Waller, and Glenda Winborn.