Human Movement Science

Leaving a Legacy

Scholarship Endowment for Physical Therapy in honor of OU Physical Therapy graduate Mitch Shaver helps students pursue careers in orthopedic physical therapy

A group of people smiling

Mitch Shaver with fellow classmates, including Amy Block Garrett who initiated the endowment


icon of a calendarAugust 14, 2023

icon of a pencilBy Jillian Wolf

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The School of Health Sciences is excited to announce the newly launched Mitchell Shaver Scholarship Endowment for Physical Therapy that in perpetuity will provide financial support for deserving students who wish to pursue physical therapy with a focus on helping patients with orthopedic and neurological conditions. 

Mitch grew up in Waterford, Michigan, and graduated from Waterford Kettering High School. Having started his college education at Michigan State University, he transferred to Oakland University a year later where he ultimately proceeded to earn three degrees: Bachelor of Science in Biology, Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences, and Master of Science in Physical Therapy (Class of 2000). 

“My physical therapy career started at Oakland University,” says Mitch. “I had amazing professors in the program. They instilled in me a deep commitment and dedication to be a life-long learner.” He notes the camaraderie of students in the physical therapy program is excellent, and the program provides an outstanding foundation of principles and techniques.

Mitch’s career journey as a Physical Therapist began by serving as a volunteer for Physiotherapy Associates where he then progressed through the ranks. Upon graduating with his Master’s degree, Mitch opened a clinic with this company. He became Director and later the Area Vice President where he oversaw several clinics across Ohio and Michigan. Mitch dedicated his physical therapy career to treating orthopedic patients. An expert clinician, he was often the first person physical therapists turned to for advice when treating patients with challenging conditions.

In 2018, Mitch was diagnosed with ALS.  From this time onward, rather than being concerned for his own welfare, Mitch began serving as a patient advocate. 

“He wants to help other people with ALS, as well as everyone he comes in contact with,” says Rhonda, Mitch’s wife. “It’s just the nature of who he is.” 

One of Mitch and Rhonda’s dreams was to have a scholarship named after him, and they anticipated funding this through the annual golf outing they host. However, this would take time, and the Shavers started discussing the possibility of creating a scholarship sooner. Not long after, Amy Block Garrett, Mitch’s classmate, approached the Shavers with a great idea - to make the best possible use of OU’s Annual Day of Giving to help fund a scholarship in honor of Mitch. 

On February 2, 2023, OU's annual Day of Giving, all donations to the Mitch Shaver fund were generously matched by the Shaver family and the SHS Physical Therapy Department. The benevolent contributions received from many friends and family, including Mitch’s OU classmates and current and former professors, along with the Shavers’ additional independent fundraising efforts such as the cornhole tournament, have helped the scholarship to reach its level of endowment in a mere three months. “All the stars aligned,” Rhonda says. “We are so excited about it because Mitch is able to see this happen.” 

The scholarship was awarded to its first recipient, physical therapy student Emilie Andrews, in May 2023. "Receiving a scholarship from the Mitch Shaver Endowment has truly opened my eyes to the support and camaraderie that comes from the physical therapy profession,” Emilie says. “I am grateful to be a part of this close-knit community and this scholarship just reiterates the support PTs (and future PTs) have for each other. Although this career takes many years of studies and with that an expense, this scholarship has helped with finances and shown me exactly why I chose this profession in the first place."

Emilie sent Mitch a thank you card upon receiving the scholarship. “It was the sweetest, nicest card,” says Rhonda. “She was so grateful, and you could just hear it in the words. It really made Mitch feel great about the process and everything that had happened.” 

The Shavers and the School of Health Sciences community are grateful to everyone who supported this endowment. “We are very blessed with the network of family and friends that support us along the way,” Mitch says. “ALS is a huge financial burden. I’m sure there are a lot of families out there who aren’t as fortunate as us. I hope the scholarship will help.” Rhonda adds, “We’re so grateful to Oakland University for helping establish the endowment, and the PT program for making a matching donation to help initiate one so soon.”

The School of Health Sciences is grateful to Mitch and all he has given to both our school and the physical therapy profession as a whole. The Mitchell Shaver Scholarship Endowment for Physical Therapy will be a key part of the legacy of the Oakland University Physical Therapy program, impacting students for decades to come. To students interested in pursuing orthopedics in physical therapy, Mitch encourages “be open-minded and definitely continue to learn throughout your career.” He hopes the scholarship will help students pursue this quest for knowledge.

If you would like to further support this impactful endowment, helping to expand this opportunity to even more students, please visit the SHS Giving Page and select SHS-EndowedScholarship -Mitchell Shaver Scholarship Endowment for Physical Therapy (61672).

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