The DPT program is set to expand with the opening of a new facility in Duke Hall


The Department of Physical Therapy recently opened a new 26,000 square foot facility in Duke Hall. The new facility is about four times as large as the department’s old quarters in Mary Hill. Equipped with new technology and a communal gathering space, the new facility makes the Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT)  program more competitive than ever before.

Derrick Sueki is an assistant professor and program director for the DPT program. Although he has not had an opportunity to teach in the new facility yet, he helped design it to fit the department’s needs.

“One of the first things you’ll notice when you first walk in is there’s a big area for students to get together and talk and share ideas, and to be able to interact not only with themselves but also with their faculty,” Sueki said. “The thing that drove us in the beginning was a desire for community.”

In addition to the communal space, the new facility is also equipped with two labs, two lecture rooms and research areas. The rooms were custom-built to include modern technology to advance DPT studies. Cameras were placed in the ceiling to record and watch the learning process. The rooms also include two-sided desks, drop-down and touch-screen monitors and smart devices.

“I’ve been teaching for about 20 years now, and I’ve seen that the way students learn has changed,” Sueki said. “The students that are coming in now are much more technologically savvy. They have a higher standard in terms of the technology provided of an educational institution. So part of the reason that we built the new facility and some of the things we kept in mind when we were designing it was that we wanted to make it a place where technology could be highlighted … technology not only from a physical therapy standpoint but also from an academic standpoint where we could be innovators and people who lead the way in terms of how technology is utilized in the classroom.”

According to Sueki, the department wanted to create a new facility like this for about eight years, but they were unable to build it until the Sacred Harvest Foundation provided a $3 million donation last year. The foundation is run by APU alumni Steve and Susie Perry.

Many students have expressed their excitement over the new facility, including senior nursing major Brittany Mapels, who worked in a physical therapy rehabilitation center. According to Mapels, physical therapy is hard, but necessary for helping others recover.

“A lot of patients in there are frustrated when they can’t do things like they used to,” Mapels said. “Physical therapy or rehabilitation therapy gives them a sense of independence [and] any sense of independence you can give them goes a long way.”

The new facility is expected to increase the amount of students allowed into each cohort of the DPT program. While APU is one of only two CCCU schools in California to have a DPT program, educators within the department expect the expansion to make APU more of a competitor to larger schools in the region.

“It goes back to [students] wanting the best education,” said junior allied health major Joshua Guzman. “APU started that with the nursing program and now they’re doing it with the physical therapy program. I believe it’s going to start a chain reaction where APU will live up to its motto as difference makers, especially for healthcare professionals.”