J. Carolyn Hultgren, MPH, PT, professor emerita of physical therapy, is a tireless supporter of physical therapy and University of the Pacific. “I still think of my time at Pacific as the ‘best job I ever had,’” said Hultgren. “I became a physical therapist because I wanted to do something to help others. It still fills my heart with gratitude when someone tells me how grateful they are to have received treatment from one of my graduates.”

A memento from her time at Pacific is a “soapbox,” a wooden crate decorated with pictures, which had been presented to her by students. “I would occasionally wish to give a personal opinion on an issue about the profession,” she said. “I would start out with an indication that I was getting on my soapbox.”

Hultgren is passionate about supporting Pacific doctor of physical therapy students. In 2018, she established the Powell-matched Carolyn Hultgren Endowed “K.I.D.S.” (Kind, Intelligent, Dedicated, Student) Scholarship for Physical Therapy. She shared why she chose to emphasize the characteristics of kindness, intelligence and dedication. “In my experience, the successful physical therapists I have known have all been kind, caring and helpful to those with whom they come into contact,” she said. “I know that it takes a high level of intelligence and perseverance to gain the knowledge and skills required to successfully gain licensure and practice physical therapy.”

In my experience, the successful physical therapists I have known have all been kind, caring and helpful to those with whom they come into contact.


Hultgren is a firm believer that health care professionals have a responsibility to be actively involved in professional organizations. “If you want to have any input into the direction your profession is developing, you must be a member of the professional association to have any influence,” she said.

She became a member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) in 1957. “I attended every APTA annual conference from 1965 until 2001,” Hultgren said. “I got started in my involvement at the state level while still living in Oklahoma, where I was elected as chapter treasurer, secretary, president and chief delegate to the APTA House of Delegates.” In 1965, while serving as an Oklahoma Delegate to the APTA House of Delegates in Cleveland she met her husband, Clarence “Clancy” W. Hultgren, PT. They both served the APTA throughout their careers.

She was also involved in the World Confederation of Physical Therapy (WCPT), which hosts international conferences every four years. She attended WCPT conferences in Montreal, Canada, Sydney, Australia, Yokahama, Japan and Washington D.C.


A physical therapy program was established at Pacific

Hultgren helped interview prospective students in 1986, 1988 and 1990 through 2001

Hultgren started teaching at Pacific

Hultgren was named chair of the Department of Physical Therapy

Hultgren retired from Pacific

Hultgren received the President’s Award from the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy

Hultgren established the Powell-matched Carolyn Hultgren Endowed “K.I.D.S.” Scholarship for Physical Therapy

By Anne Marie H. Bergthold
Enjoy this article? Share it with your friends