Susan McGinty Professor Emerita, Sacramento State Department of Physical Therapy


Don't tell Susan McGinty she can't do something or it's not possible. The emerita physical therapy professor faced an uphill climb when she set out to take Sac State's physical therapy program to the doctoral degree-granting level.

New standards established by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education required the department to increase faculty staffing levels, adjust curriculum to add a research component and jump through a series of approval hoops that included seeking permission from the state legislature. But McGinty was determined to see it through.

"Sacramento State allowed me to grow in a direction I didn't know was possible."

"If a door shuts, always try to find an open one to reach an end point," McGinty says.

Her vision was realized in Fall 2012 when 32 physical therapy doctoral candidates stepped foot on campus. For her efforts championing the physical therapy program from its infancy to the highest level, McGinty received the Honorary Alumna Award from the Sacramento State Alumni Association.

McGinty has been in the physical therapy field for 50 years, mainly as a clinician working in the private, non-profit sector. While working as the director of a nearby rehabilitation clinic, McGinty joined a group that was looking to launch a physical therapy program at Sac State. She attended community advisory committee meetings on the subject and has never looked back.

"That was my first time on campus and when I became aware of the possibilities here," she says. "Once the program opened, it changed the direction of my professional career."

She became a member of the first physical therapy faculty group at Sac State in 1996 and started to see an opening to have a greater influence on the profession. The then-dean of the College of Health and Human Services encouraged McGinty to obtain a doctorate in education, which she says equipped her with applicable skills to do her job more effectively.

"Sacramento State allowed me to grow in a direction I didn't know was possible," McGinty says. "The opportunity here helped me grow not only professionally, but personally as well."

McGinty left a lasting legacy in the department. Faculty and staff can meet in the "McGinty Conference Room" in Folsom Hall and there's a McGinty Cup fundraising golf tournament.

McGinty herself established the Susan Young McGinty Endowed Scholarship, which helps students overcome the costs that might otherwise discourage them from becoming physical therapists.

That dedication to the program and its students was key to McGinty being named an honorary alumna.

"It's really powerful," she says. "I really feel that I received so much more in return than I could've ever have given."

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