Murray State University receives grant from Paducah Area Community Reuse Organization

Dec 8, 2020

PACRO grant

Pictured from left to right: Murray State President Dr. Bob Jackson, PACRO Executive Director Greg Wiles and Executive Director of Governmental and Institutional Relations Jordan Smith

Grant to help expand the exercise science program at Murray State’s Paducah regional campus  

MURRAY, Ky. — Murray State University has received a $25,000 grant from the Paducah Area Community Reuse Organization (PACRO) to be used toward an expansion of the exercise science program at the University’s Paducah regional campus. Through this expansion, the program, which is currently only offered at the Murray campus will continue to meet the growing needs in the healthcare industry within Paducah and its surrounding service areas, while strengthening local partnerships among educational institutions and service industries. 

Murray State’s Paducah regional campus has plans to dedicate one of its largest video conferencing classrooms to the exercise science program in offering both lecture and lab space with program equipment such as clinical grade treadmills, bike ergometers, treatment tables, and other medical and clinical equipment. The previously existing computer lab would be relocated to a classroom on the second loor of the campus. 

The ield of exercise science is multidisciplinary and applies the scientiic principles of biology, physiology, chemistry and psychology to understand human movement and provide the basis for evidence-based practice to prevent injury, improve function and performance, and enhance health and itness. The curriculum also provides a  strong foundation for success in graduate coursework, which aligns with the graduate program of occupational therapy that is housed at the Paducah regional campus. Murray State provides an accelerated track for exercise science students wanting to become occupational therapists. 

The expansion of the exercise science program to Paducah would provide area residents the opportunity to earn their associate degree, bachelor’s degree and master’s degree, culminating in an increasing number of licensed occupational therapists that learn and stay in the service region. 

According to the Occupational Employment Statistics program projected for 2019-2029 as updated on September 1, 2020, home health and personal care aides are considered one of the fastest growing occupations as well as one of the top occupations with the most job growth. Additionally, reported in the Kentucky Labor Force Update from September 2020, “Personal Care and Service Occupations (which includes personal aides) are likely to grow the fastest (with employment increasing by 18.5%)”. Moreover in September 2020, reported in the Occupational Outlook Dashboard for 2018-2028 through the Kentucky Center for Statistics, personal care and service occupations was reported as a very fast-growing occupation for the west Kentucky region with 2,670 projected job openings. 

Murray State hopes to partner with West Kentucky Community and Technical College (WKCTC) to secure a 2+2 articulation agreement in which WKCTC students would have expanded opportunities to remain in Paducah and earn both their associate and bachelor’s degrees. 

"We are excited to offer the exercise science program at Murray State University’s Paducah regional campus,” said Dr. Dina Byers, dean of the school of nursing and health professions. “This will provide an opportunity for those students in the Paducah area to receive a bachelor's degree in exercise science. Our exercise science program is accredited through the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. By earning a Bachelor of Science in exercise science, graduates are prepared to work in a variety of settings or pursue graduate education. We look forward to working with West Kentucky Community and Technical College to help meet the needs of the residents of Paducah and the surrounding region." 

“I want to thank the Paducah Area Community Reuse Organization (PACRO), the Board of Directors and Executive Director Greg Wiles for their support of Murray State University as we work to grow and enhance our academic programs throughout this region,” said Murray State President Dr. Bob Jackson. “This new academic program at the Paducah regional campus will beneit the healthcare industry in our region and provide new opportunities as we serve the students and families of this multi-state region and beyond." 

“The Paducah Area Community Reuse Organization (PACRO) is tasked to mitigate the impact of the closure of the U.S. Department of Energy-owned Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in western McCracken County, Kentucky. We are fortunate to have Murray State University’s representation and participation on PACRO’s Executive Committee. PACRO is conident the exercise science major grant funding will help create new employment opportunities and provide the necessary education to meet the increasing healthcare employment demand in the region,” said Greg Wiles, PACRO executive director.

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