Catherine Worthingham, one of the most revered leaders in physical therapy and the namesake of the highest honor given to APTA members, will soon have a room dedicated to her at the new APTA headquarters.
The room, officially titled the Catherine Worthingham Room Presented by the Stanford Physical Therapy Alumni, was given the title thanks to a generous gift from the alumni to APTA’s Minority Scholarship Fund. The donation is part of APTA’s Campaign for Future Generations to leverage the association’s centennial year and naming rights at APTA Centennial Center to raise funds to support diversity, equity, and inclusion. The room will be formally dedicated during APTA's centennial celebrations in September.
Worthingham, who served as APTA president from 1940 to 1944 and was a longtime educator at Stanford, was "a giant in the profession," according to Gail Jensen, PT, PhD, FAPTA, a Stanford alum who helped lead the effort to have Worthingham recognized. "She was an extraordinary leader and systems thinker for the profession."
Terry Nordstrom, PT, EdD, FAPTA, another leader in the Stanford donation, agreed, pointing to Worthingham's seminal research on physical therapy education as particularly important to the profession's development.
"The Worthingham study was the first national comprehensive study of physical therapy education and a truly influential body of work," Nordstrom said. "Her research was disseminated through several important publications, and ultimately helped to contextualize physical therapy education within health care and higher education."
The room itself is located on the third floor of APTA Centennial Center, with views of the Potomac River. Designed as a conference room with seating for up to 12, the space will be used for staff meetings and APTA member events.
Judith Gale, PT, DPT, MPH, who also helped to organize the Stanford effort, said the room's name will help to reinforce the vital thread that connects today's profession with its history.
"Stanford University’s legacy in the physical therapy profession is significant," Gale said. "We all stand on the shoulders of those who laid the foundation for our professional formation — names like Worthingham, Marian Williams, Helen Blood, Barbara Kent, and Kay Shepard. The program closed in 1985, and we wanted to ensure the connection between the legacy of Catherine Worthingham, the Stanford University Physical Therapy Program, and the profession as a whole."
The donation that resulted in the Worthingham room is very much in keeping with its namesake's commitment to the profession, according to Arthur Lum, PT, MA, another Stanford alumni organizer.
"Catherine Worthingham would be thrilled to know that we've come together to assist efforts to make our profession as diverse and inclusive as it can be," Lum said. "She believed in the power of our profession, and she was devoted to sharing that power with others freely."
"Some of us have been recognized as Catherine Worthingham Fellows of the APTA, a recognition we embrace with pride and respect," added Stanford alum Carol Jo Tichenor, PT, MA, FAPTA. "She serves as an inspiration in so many ways, and we want that inspiration to be forever connected to the APTA Centennial Center."