Programs Reassigned and WSU Department Closed

PULLMAN, Wash.–The Department of Kinesiology and Leisure Studies, one of three departments at the Washington State University College of Education, has closed and the department’s four academic programs have moved to other university administrative units.

Judy Mitchell, dean of the college, said the programs were moved because the department no longer housed a critical mass of full-time permanent, tenured or tenure-eligible faculty. Many of the department faculty have retired, and the positions were not filled over the years due to budget constraints. The remaining three faculty did not form a core large enough for an independent department.

The department housed four academic programs, according to interim chair Dennis Warner. About 80 undergraduate students are majoring in the movement studies program; 40 in the exercise science program; 35 in the athletic training program; and the fourth program, the health and fitness endorsement, has no certified majors yet since it is beginning this fall semester.

The graduate program in exercise science is moving from the Pullman campus to WSU Spokane in September, joining the Health Sciences Initiative there. At Spokane, the opportunities for both clinical experience and research will be enhanced for both students and faculty. The undergraduate exercise science program will be discontinued in May of 2004, after the students who are enrolled now complete their coursework.

The other three academic programs have moved to other departments at the College of Education. Two of the other three programs formerly housed at the department, athletic training and movement studies, will continue in the Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling Psychology.

The athletic training program recently received continuing accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, Warner added.

The new health and fitness teaching endorsement is now housed in the Department of Teaching and Learning.

No faculty or staff lost their jobs through this program transfer process, and the programs continue to enroll and prepare students, Warner said.

Warner also stated that the faculty are upbeat and optimistic about the programs’ reassignment.

“These programs have been struggling for several years with dwindling resources,” Warner said. “The faculty all recognize that this move is an opportunity to accomplish more.”

At some point in the future, as programs grow and as budgetary problems are resolved, the department could be re-established, Mitchell added. The college also expects that closing the department will result in some cost savings through efficiency, but the amount is not specifically known.