Chair and professor of physical therapy
While his educational journey at the college spanned more than a decade—he earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees from Daemen—it took only a day shadowing a PT mentor for Ford to know the field was his chosen path.
“Daemen was the only school I considered attending,” he said. “A small school with a family-like atmosphere was a perfect fit— and it’s still that way—it’s my home away from home.”
As a full-time faculty member at the college since 1999, Ford leads the Faculty Senate and the Physical Therapy Department—all while maintaining regular clinical practice.
You’ve helped build one of the strongest PT programs in the region and the country. What’s been a consistent thread over those decades?
Making sure the proverbial ‘door is always open’ for our students. And, for a time recently, the proverbial ‘Zoom meeting is always open’ for them, too. ‘Their success is our success as a program.’
Each faculty member continues to practice PT in their area of specialty. The students reap the rewards—learning directly from scholars and those who treat patients regularly.
In what ways do you look to continue to grow and learn in your field?
Empathy is an important quality to possess. Going into each interaction, meeting, conversation with a sense of empathy is vital, because it’s impossible to know what is affecting someone at any given time.
And in teaching—it’s such a rewarding challenge to help someone learn a topic in ways to meet their needs—seeing those lightbulbs go off never gets old.
What was the experience like to teach a discipline that’s rooted largely in being in-person—and lead colleagues as President of the Faculty Senate—during one of the most serious health crises in the last century?
Daemen has a proud tradition of being a family. This has never been more true. I have witnessed first-hand so many people coming together across the college to take this crisis head on and to meet the needs of our students.
The pandemic has inspired us to become better, more nimble listeners, leaders, educators, and PTs.
What are you most proud of during your decades at Daemen?
There is no question—our students—and the very real impacts they make in the lives of others. Left: Ford (left), with son, and fellow Daemen alum, Tyler Ford ’19.