West Coast University Names Nicolaas van den Heever Founding Dean of New Master of Science Program in Occupational Therapy

Dr. Nicolaas J. van den Heever will become West Coast University's Founding Dean and Program Director of its Master of Science of Occupational Therapy program. (Photo: Business Wire)

IRVINE, Calif.--()--West Coast University announced that its new Master of Science of Occupational Therapy program will be headed by Dr. Nicolaas J. van den Heever, Founding Dean and Program Director.

A prime example of West Coast University’s diverse leadership, Dr. van den Heever was born in South Africa, where he attended university and received his degree in occupational therapy. Early in his career, he worked in various health care settings in South Africa, including serving as a university professor. In the early 1990s, Dr. van den Heever was approached by the World Health Organization to start a rehabilitation clinic in China. At that time, rehabilitation was an unfamiliar concept in China, and Dr. van den Heever spent several years traveling the country, training doctors at health care facilities in the practice of rehabilitation.

In 1995, he moved to the United States where he has since worked as a therapist, program director, hospital administrator, and university faculty member. Over his 28-year career, Dr. van den Heever has worked at every level within the discipline, from providing direct patient care to management to educator.

He brings this unique background and experience in health care to the students at West Coast University, understanding that students learn by listening to stories and then drawing from their own experience. By developing this personal connection, Dr. van den Heever provides students with a memorable tool for learning.

“We are very pleased to have superb academic leaders like Dr. van den Heever joining our team and leading programs like the M.S. in Occupational Therapy,” said Dr. Barry Ryan, President of West Coast University. “The program will complement the university’s current health care education offerings and expand our interdisciplinary approach to learning.”

West Coast University is adding three new programs – all pending accreditation approvals. These new programs—the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy, Doctor of Pharmacy, and Doctor of Physical Therapy—are being added to the University’s long-established nursing and dental hygiene programs. Occupational Therapy students will take some courses alongside students from other health care disciplines, helping to prepare all students for a collaborative approach to patient care outside the classroom.

Dr. van den Heever praises the University for the timely expansion of its allied health care professions. He points to the current movement in health care to provide patients with interdisciplinary care and the resulting need for students to gain an inter-professional education. Further, he notes that West Coast University’s Program of Occupational Therapy will help to advance the American Occupational Therapy’s Centennial Vision, which focuses on creating a “science-driven and evidence-based profession with a globally connected and diverse workforce meeting society's occupational needs."

Dr. van den Heever is a licensed member of the California Board of Occupational Therapy, and a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association. Additionally, he is Region 1 Director and a Member of the Executive Board of the Occupational Therapy Association of California (OTAC). He is also a Board Member of the California Foundation of Occupational Therapy (CFOT) and People Power Chair for the American Occupational Therapy Association 2013 Annual Conference.

About West Coast University

West Coast University is one of Southern California’s leading health care educators, offering programs in nursing, health care management and dental hygiene at campuses in Los Angeles, Orange County and Ontario, and nursing programs at its new campus in Dallas, Texas. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) awarded programmatic accreditation to WCU’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs in October 2009 and its Master of Science in Nursing program in May 2012. WCU’s Dental Hygiene program at the Orange County Campus is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) of the American Dental Association to offer the only Bachelor of Science Degree in Dental Hygiene (BSDH) in the County. It is one of only four BSDH programs in California. West Coast University is regionally accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC - www.wascsenior.org). Dr Barry Ryan is the President of West Coast University.


West Coast University
Celia Ffrench, 949-783-4080

Release Summary

West Coast University announced that Dr. Nicolaas J. van den Heever will become Founding Dean and Program Director of its new Master of Science of Occupational Therapy program.


West Coast University
Celia Ffrench, 949-783-4080