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Kitty DeGree Foundation presents $50,000 for ULM neuromuscular lab

Published Oct. 22, 2019

The University of Louisiana Monroe is one step closer to having a neuromuscular laboratory in the College of Health Sciences thanks to a $50,000 gift from the Kitty DeGree Foundation. 

The announcement of the donation naming the Kitty DeGree Neuromuscular Lab for the Doctor of Physical Therapy program was made Monday, Oct. 21, at ULM. 


CAPTION: The Kitty DeGree Foundation donated $50,000 for the naming of a neuromuscular lab ULM for the Doctor of Physical Therapy program. The gift was announced Monday, Oct. 21, 2019. Pictured, from left, are President Nick J. Bruno, Director of Physical Therapy Lisa VanHoose, Interim Dean of the College of Health Sciences Jana Sutton, President of the KDF Cindy Rogers and Executive Director of ULM Advancement, Foundation and Alumni Relations Susan Chappell.
Emerald McIntyre/ULM Photo Services


Susan Chappell, Executive Director of ULM Advancement, Foundation and Alumni Relations, welcomed special guests and university faculty and staff.

“Thank you for joining us for the celebration of a significantly constructive gift from the Kitty DeGree Foundation,” said Chappell, who introduced President Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.

Bruno said he became acquainted with the late Mrs. DeGree when he became president in 2010.  

“She has given over $9 million to the university during her lifetime and afterward through the Kitty DeGree Foundation. She is by far our largest individual donor,” Bruno said. “Kitty DeGree has left a legacy that I suspect will be hard to match.”

“I have often said Kitty DeGree exemplified what giving is all about. She gave without an expectation of getting anything in return. She was bright; she was committed and dedicated to not only ULM, but also to this whole community. We are so honored to accept yet another one of her gifts,” Bruno said.

Lisa VanHoose, Ph.D., serves as director of the Physical Therapy program and is an associate professor. She believes the benefits of the neuromuscular lab will extend beyond Northeast Louisiana.

“Today’s donation is going to make a difference to ULM faculty and students, and also to our community. It also has the potential to have a global impact,” VanHoose said. “It is going to allow our faculty to train students with cutting-edge access to assessment tools and equipment as they learn to diagnose and treat neuromuscular conditions and disorders. We are extremely appreciative of the Kitty DeGree Foundation for partnering with us in the development of our Doctor of Physical Therapy program.”

Cindy Rogers, president of the KDF, was a longtime friend of DeGree and worked with her for many years. 

“Kitty DeGree is probably the only person I have known who lived her mantra, ‘Service above self.’ About 15 years ago, she came to me and said, ‘I want you to help me set up a foundation. It is important to me that my work goes on after I’m gone,’” Rogers said. 

“Kitty DeGree had many community interests where she gave of her time and her financial resources to promote and advance the services and programs she believed in,” Rogers said. “Her priorities in giving were higher education and health care. She knew the significant impact these services held for individuals and the community.”

Rogers said the addition of the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) at ULM “presents endless levels for community involvement, investment and support. Our foundation, working to preserve Kitty’s legacy of giving, saw this as a dual opportunity to once again prioritize higher education and health care. The Kitty DeGree Foundation Neuromuscular Lab will be a valued addition and we are grateful to be involved in continuing support of ULM.”

In 2018, the Board of Regents approved a Doctor of Physical Therapy program at ULM. Currently, VanHoose and ULM officials are aligning accreditation, establishing curriculum and hiring faculty.

Before her death in 2012, DeGree made a $1 million contribution to ULM, which led to the naming of the Kitty DeGree School of Nursing and DeGree Hall. DeGree established the $1 million Eminent Scholars Chair in Nursing and five $100,000 endowed professorships; Kitty DeGree Endowed Professorship in Biology, Kitty DeGree Endowed Professorship in Education, Kitty DeGree Endowed Professorship in Computer Information Systems, Kitty DeGree Endowed Professorship in Computer Science and the Kitty DeGree Endowed Professorship for the Speech and Hearing Clinic.

For more about Kitty DeGree and the Kitty DeGree Foundation’s impact on ULM: