On Sept. 30, the Ohio University Physical Therapy Board of Alumni had incredible news come their way. A generous donor wanted to support the program that changed everything for him and the love of his life.
Dr. Ashok Gupta, an emeriti professor of marketing at OU, moved from India in 1980 and received his Ph.D. from Syracuse University. He was offered a position at OU in 1984, retired in 2020 and has stayed in Athens since then. In 1986, however, Gupta and his wife, Sudha Agrawal, faced an event that would change their lives. They were victims of a car accident and Agrawal's femur was shattered. She was told she would walk again, but not without a limp.
"The way doctor's described it was, her femur was shattered like you drop a china plate on a concrete floor," Gupta said. "She was in the hospital for 10 weeks."
However, her determination and the physical therapy she received at the hospital made it possible for her to walk normally again. After this event, Agrawal took an interest in physical therapy and the idea of assisting others. She received her master's in physical therapy from OU in 1998 at 42 years old. She continued to work in local Athens clinics for 15 years and retired early in 2013. Unfortunately, she passed away in 2016 from ovarian cancer.
This change in Gupta's life prompted him to donate $100,000 four years ago, establishing the Sudha Agrawal Memorial Endowment. The new gift, in addition to the original amount, totaled $1,000,000. Gupta said that he wanted to provide more than just a scholarship, and over the past four years, the money has been used to fund speakers in a lecture series for the college.
"Initially we started with the idea of just the lecture series and the $100,000 donation," said Gupta. "The lecture series was great, but I asked Gary, 'Are there any other needs?'"
After further discussion with Gary Chleboun, the previous director of the school of rehabilitation and communication sciences, a decision was made to allocate donated funds to administrative support, faculty and student professional development. Gupta hopes the program becomes the first choice for students and faculty alike.
"I want the program to not only continue as a strong, rigorous and successful program but to also become a premiere continuing education provider for our clinical partners and clinicians across the region and country," Michele Courtney, who stepped into an interim director role in July 2021 after Chleboun's retirement, said in an email.
Courtney said this was a wonderful opportunity for the program and, like Gupta, hopes the program continues to soar.
"I just want to see it continue to strive for excellence in PT education," said Chleboun. "Really push the limits on how they can prepare students for practice, how they get what kind of research our program can focus on and have an influence on the future of physical therapy."