Dr. Kellee Harper-Hanigan Named Program Director for LMU Doctor of Physical Therapy Program

Dr. Kellee Harper-Hanigan

Kellee Harper-Hanigan, DPT, PhD has been named the program director for the Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program effective Sept. 1, 2020. Harper-Hanigan began working with LMU-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (DCOM) in January 2019 to help develop the DPT program, which has begun taking applications for its inaugural class set to start May 2021.


“Dr. Hanigan is a delightful addition to the Lincoln Memorial University family,” said Dr. Brian A. Kessler, vice president and dean of LMU-DCOM. “We are thrilled to have Kellee as our program director for the Doctor of Physical Therapy program and are very proud of the team she is building. We are looking forward to the best and brightest future with her and know she can help LMU grow and meet our mission.”


Dr. Kellee Hanigan“I am truly honored and excited to take on this leadership role at an institution with a strong track record of implementing high quality health care education programs in the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine and Physician Assistant programs,” said Harper-Hanigan. “I am confident that the Doctor of Physical Therapy program will live up to these previously established standards through its innovation and provision of diverse educational experiences that will prepare graduates for contemporary practice.”


Harper-Hanigan earned her PhD from the School of Public Health at Indiana University-Bloomington, and her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Southern California. She also completed a Post-Doctoral Research Assistantship at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. While earning her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and a minor in physiological psychology from Dartmouth College, she decided that physical therapy was the career path she wanted to take.


“I wanted a career in which I could connect with patients, build relationships, and help them regain function and get back to doing all of the things that bring them joy,” said Harper-Hanigan. “I have always had a passion for physical activity, and I found that PT was the perfect blend between exercise and medicine.”


She practiced in outpatient orthopedics and sports rehabilitation for three years prior to entering academia, and an additional eight years in an acute/intensive care setting and in inpatient wound care at a Level I Trauma Center.


Before coming to LMU, Harper-Hanigan was a member of the founding core faculty in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Indiana State University. She also volunteered as a National Physical Therapy Examination item writer through the Federation for State Boards of Physical Therapy. She is a board-certified geriatrics clinical specialist through the American Physical Therapy Association and wound care certified through the American Board of Wound Management. She also is a certified health care simulation educator through the Society for Simulation in Healthcare.


The DPT program will be located at LMU-Knoxville (9737 Cogdill Road). Current LMU students and transfer students from other institutions may also enter the program after completing the prerequisite coursework. For those who have already completed their bachelor’s degree, but want to pursue a Doctor of Physical Therapy, they can do so without having to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).


Harper-Hanigan recently moved to the Knoxville area with her family and is enjoying all that area has to offer. “Some of my favorite things so far are the proximity to the mountains, the clean air and the food,” said Harper-Hanigan.


The program is in the pre-candidacy stage of the accreditation process and will be applying for candidacy December 2020 with the application for full initial accreditation submitted Fall of 2023 to the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).*


She encourages students to attend a virtual open house and apply early. Harper-Hanigan is looking forward to getting the program off the ground and running. She said, “I hope to help create an inclusive and nurturing environment for students, faculty and staff to excel in their professional endeavors.”


For complete information on admissions and application requirements, visit: www.LMUnet.edu/dpt.


Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies. The DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine is located on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee, with an additional location at LMU-Knoxville. LMU-DCOM is an integral part of LMU’s values-based learning community and is dedicated to preparing the next generation of osteopathic physicians to provide health care in the often underserved region of Appalachia and beyond. For more information about LMU-DCOM, call 1.800.325.0900, ext. 7082, email [email protected], or visit us online at http://med.LMUnet.edu.




LMU is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate, baccalaureate, masters, specialist, and doctorate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097, or call 404.679.4500, for questions about the accreditation of Lincoln Memorial University.


LMU plans to offer the DPT program in May of 2021 pending approval of the SACSCOC.


*Graduation from a physical therapist education program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314; phone; 703.706.3245; [email protected] is necessary for eligibility to sit for the licensure examination, which is required in all states. 


Lincoln Memorial University is seeking accreditation of a new physical therapist education program from CAPTE. The program is planning to submit an Application for Candidacy, which is the formal application required in the pre-accreditation stage, on December 1, 2020. Submission of this document does not assure that the program will be granted Candidate for Accreditation status. Achievement of Candidate for Accreditation status is required prior to implementation of the professional phase of the program; therefore, no students may be enrolled in professional courses until Candidate for Accreditation status has been achieved. Further, though achievement of Candidate for Accreditation status signifies satisfactory progress toward accreditation, it does not assure that the program will be granted accreditation.

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