Ann Dunbar, D.P.T., created a scholarship fund at the VCU College of Health Professions to honor mentors. Photo: Penelope M.  Carrington, MCV Foundation

Physical Therapy Scholarship Honors Mentors

The late Dan Kahsar was a natural teacher, a gifted mentor with a contagious thirst for learning who had a knack for inspiring his physical therapy students and peers to challenge themselves.

“His clinical excellence, his ability to challenge and bring out the best in a person — he had an innate sense for seeing the potential in those around him,” said Ann Dunbar, D.P.T., who benefited from Kahsar’s guidance.

Kahsar died in 2021 after contracting COVID-19, and in writing a remembrance of him, Dr. Dunbar realized how much his early career mentorship inspired and shaped her career path for the next four decades. 

This year, she established the Honoring Our Mentors Physical Therapy Scholarship at the VCU College of Health Professions to provide support for physical therapy students who demonstrate financial need. Her hope is that this fund will inspire other donors to give and share stories of the mentors like Dan Kahsar.

“After considering other options, a scholarship really made the most sense to me in terms of giving back to help students and to honor his legacy,” Dr. Dunbar said.

She first met Kahsar in 1978 when she joined Richmond Rehabilitation Services, where Kahsar was co-owner. At the time, Kahsar had just finished his master’s degree at VCU and began taking all the joint mobilization courses offered. Whatever he learned, she said, he passed along to her, which in turn sparked her interest in orthopaedics.

“I was grateful and receptive and eager to learn,” Dr. Dunbar said. She went on to assist Kahsar in orthopaedics labs on the MCV Campus, which turned out to be a wonderful introduction to the university.

Kahsar’s mentorship inspired Dr. Dunbar to earn her master’s degree at VCU, followed by a doctorate in physical therapy. Increasingly, she focused on women’s and pelvic health, working in private practice and at VCU Health, where she helped with efforts to establish the pelvic health program at VCU Health’s Stony Point Campus. Additionally, she served as adjunct faculty and taught women’s and pelvic health courses in the College of Health Professions from 1988 to 2017.

“Spending those years with Dan set the trajectory for what my career would become,” Dr. Dunbar said. “He touched so many lives in his career, and this gift will allow his passion for education and learning to live on.”

If you would like to recognize your mentor by making a gift to the Honoring Our Mentors Physical Therapy Scholarship, please contact T. Greg Prince, Ed.D., senior director of development at the VCU College of Health Professions, at 804- 828-7247, or tgprince@vcu.edu.