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Doisy College of Health Sciences Secures First Endowed Professorship in Its History

Saint Louis University’s Doisy College of Health Sciences recently announced the establishment of the college’s first endowed professorship. The Sr. Mary Imelda Pingel Endowed Professorship in Physical Therapy was generously made possible by a $500,000 gift to the college from an anonymous donor.

SLU PT Students

Physical therapy students practice the techniques they learn at SLU. A new endowed professorship, the first in college history, honors the legacy of innovation and educational rigor that has been the program's hallmark since its founding in 1933.

SLU was among the first Jesuit institutions to offer a degree in physical therapy and continues to have a one of the nation’s highly ranked programs. Since its founding in 1933, the program in physical therapy has a long history of education and leadership. Pingel was the department’s founding chairperson and, through her tireless efforts, formed the foundation of physical therapy at SLU.

Pingel, a Franciscan Sister of Mary, became the director of the physical therapy  program after earning her bachelor's degree in physical therapy in 1942 and pursuing clinical work at the Firmin Desloge Hospital - now SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital. While working in the clinical setting, Pingel treated patients suffering from polio and opened a cerebral palsy and rehabilitation center. She would go on to earn a master's degree from SLU in 1969 and served as chair until 1977. During her years at SLU, Pingel wrote Physical Therapy at Saint Louis University - History and Memoirs.
Pingel died at age 95 in 2006 and colleagues credited her with laying the foundation for the program's success.

Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training Chairperson Tricia Austin, PT, Ph.D., ATC, was excited to learn of the investment in the department which continues its commitment to support and nurture an intellectually rigorous and ethically sound academic community.

“We are most honored and humbled to receive this generous gift,” Dr. Austin said. “It is a time of excitement and gratitude, particularly as we celebrate our university’s 200-year history.”

Dr. Austin went on to explain some of the great advantages the new professorship will offer the department.

“The endowed professorship will allow us to recruit and recognize highly regarded faculty who are leaders in advancing the physical therapy profession,” Dr. Austin said. “The endowed professorship will complement our highly talented and engaged faculty.”

Doisy College of Health Sciences Dean Mardell Wilson, EdD, RD was excited for the opportunities that gaining an endowed professorship would mean for both the program in physical therapy and for the college itself.

“Securing the college’s first endowed professorship is a wonderful testament to the fantastic work being done in the Program in Physical Therapy,” Dr. Wilson said. “Thanks to the remarkable generosity of this donor, we will be able to further elevate the profile of our college as we continue to advance research and its impact on the discipline and those we serve.”

Find out more information about SLU’s Program in Physical Therapy

Saint Louis University is a Catholic, Jesuit institution that values academic excellence, life-changing research, compassionate health care, and a strong commitment to faith and service. Founded in 1818, the University fosters the intellectual and character development of nearly 13,000 students on two campuses in St. Louis and Madrid, Spain. Building on a legacy of 200 years, Saint Louis University continues to move forward with an unwavering commitment to a higher purpose, a greater good.