Kean University has completed a $2.4 million renovation to its Nathan Weiss Graduate College, funded in part by the Building Our Future Bond Act, which will allow Kean to expand its most competitive graduate program, the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (OT).
With the expansion, Kean becomes the only university in the tri-state area and one of only 17 nationally with an Occupational Therapy Clinic, which will provide treatment to develop, recover or maintain both daily living and work-related skills to individuals with physical, mental or developmental conditions. The clinic will offer both pediatric and adult services when it opens to the public later this year. The 9,100-square-foot project adds 150 instructional seats with three new classrooms and a clinic-based teaching area to the graduate building on the university’s East Campus in Hillside.
“The new clinic space further distinguishes Kean’s OT program, which is not only the top-ranked in New Jersey, but also among the premier programs in the nation,” said Kean University President Dawood Farahi. “The program is extremely competitive. More than 300 students applied for 38 seats available in Fall 2013. As a result of the expansion, we expect to accept approximately 30 percent more students in a program that produces highly paid professionals who are in great demand immediately after passing their registry exams.”
President Farahi noted that the bond funds from the State of New Jersey were the first capital investment made in higher education in nearly 30 years, and credited Governor Chris Christie for making the investment a priority.
“Governor Christie recognizes that higher education is an economic engine in the State of New Jersey and his support for this bond initiative speaks volumes about his commitment to our students,” Farahi said.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the demand for occupational therapists will increase by 29 percent through 2022, which is much faster than average workplace demand. By 2030, the number of older persons in the United States is expected to reach 71.5 million, comprising about 20 percent of the population.
“The new OT clinic space provides a much needed service to the surrounding community, as there is a widely recognized shortage of OT services statewide,” said Kean OT Chair Dr. Laurie Knis-Matthews, O.T. “As the population ages, the need for these services increases. The clinic will help reduce the burden on rising health care costs related to therapy services by providing services in a training facility.”
Clinic services will be made available to the public in Union, Essex and Hudson counties. The clinic is a state-of-the-art facility that will service all ages, providing occupational therapy services for children, adolescents and adults, focused on rehabilitation and disability, mental health, productive aging, and health and wellness. From an academic perspective, students will be able to utilize the clinic for splinting, working with clients during seminar classes, and also receive possible fieldwork placements.
“The importance of expanding quality Occupational Therapy education has never been greater,” said Dr. Jeffrey P. Beck, Dean of Kean’s Nathan Weiss Graduate College. “We are seeing a strong demand for community clinics and a skilled workforce to meet community health and wellness needs. We are thankful to the people of New Jersey for investing in the future of our students.”
During the November 2012 election, New Jersey voters approved the Building Our Future Bond Act. The referendum authorized $750 million in bonds for designated research institutions, public colleges, county colleges and private colleges with endowments under $1 billion. Kean received a $1,987,500 grant from the Building Our Future Bond Act and a $100,000 grant from the Higher Education Equipment Leasing Fund for the $2,460,305 project with the balance funded by existing Kean reserves.
The OT program previously conducted classes in Townsend Hall, a facility on the main campus in Union, which was in need of renovation. The new space provides a seamless transition for students between their in-class instruction and their clinical experience, which were previously housed in two locations on opposite sides of the campus.
The OT program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). For more information, please visit grad.kean.edu/ot.Related Articles: