The completion of a $2.4 million dollar renovation to its Nathan Weiss Graduate College will allow Kean University to expand its Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (OT). The university notes in a recent news release that the renovation was funded in part by the Building Our Future Bond Act.

New Jersey voters approved the Building Our Future Bond Act in the November 2012 election, the release states. A total of $750 million in bonds were authorized 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.

According to the release, the expansion establishes Kean as the only university in the tri-state area and one of 17 universities nationally with an occupational therapy clinic that will provide treatment to develop, recover, or maintain both daily living and work-related skills to individuals with physical, mental, or developmental conditions.

Kean’s OT program previously conducted classes in Townsend Hall, a facility on its main campus in Union that was in need of renovation. The new space, the release says, offers students a seamless transition between their in-class instruction and clinical experience, which were previously housed in two locations on opposite sides of the campus.

The clinic will reportedly offer both pediatric and adult services when it opens to the public later this year. The release notes that the 9,100-square-foot project adds a total of 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.

In the release, Dawood Farahi, Kean University president, explains that the OT 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% more students in a program that produces highly paid professionals who are in great demand immediately after passing their registry exams…”

Laurie Knis-Matthews, OT, echoes Farahi’s sentiments, adding that 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. 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.”

The release reports that clinic services will be made available to the public in Union, Essex, and Hudson counties. The facility is intended to service all ages, providing OT services for children, adolescents, and adults, with a focus on rehabilitation and disability, mental health, productive aging, and health and wellness. Students will also be able to use the clinic for splinting, working with clients during seminar classes, and also receive potential fieldwork placements.

Jefferey P. Beck, dean of Kean’s Nathan Weiss Graduate College, emphasizes that the importance of expanding quality OT education, “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,” Beck says.

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Photo Caption: Kean University Occupational Therapy graduate students work on their casting skills in the new OT clinic (from left): Cindy King of Manalapan, Gonzalo Garcia of Haledon, Pauline Eskander of South Plainfield and Ashley Harve of Springfield.

Source: Kean University