Despite an enthusiastic launch in 1957, the PT Fund had been struggling in its first two decades, disbursing less than $80,000 in grant funds toward its goal to foster scientific, literary, and educational advances in physical therapy.
Charles Magistro, who had completed a term as APTA president in 1976, recognized that the association’s “failure to scientifically document the efficacy of services could pose a serious threat to our profession in the years ahead” and conceived of a broader-based, wholly independent, tax-exempt foundation that would attract substantial funding from external sources. To be effective, he believed it would need its own executive director, trustees, staff, and budget. With the help of Executive Director Royce Noland, who also was secretary treasurer of the PT Fund; Robert J. Hickok, a PT Fund board member; and others, the details of the reconstituted foundation were fleshed out, and the House of Delegates approved the plan for the new Foundation for Physical Therapy in 1979.
To provide the foundation with operating capital until it could become self-sustaining, the House levied a special, one-time $15 assessment on each active member. Despite the eloquent words of leaders such as Helen J. Hislop, who declared that each member had “an immense moral obligation” to support physical therapy research, the levy met with substantial resistance from a minority of members, some of whom dropped their membership rather than pay. But in the end, the foundation launched with roughly $350,000 in seed money. The foundation’s board of trustees chose Magistro as its first chairman and later hired Dan Ruskin as the first director.
The new organization got off to an impressive start, granting more in scholarship and research aid within its first year than had been given away in all the previous years combined.