24, No. 9, Nov. 4, 2004
approves merging kinesiology, community health
Sharita Forrest, Assistant Editor
The departments of kinesiology and community health in the College of
Applied Life Studies may be merged if a proposal passed unanimously
by the Urbana-Champaign Senate also is approved by the UI Board of Trustees.
At its Nov. 1 meeting, the Senate endorsed a proposal from the Senate
Committee on Educational Policy to combine the departments. The new
department would be called the department of kinesiology and community
health for its initial year and a permanent title would be determined
The merger was recommended by a task force appointed by Tanya Gallagher,
dean of the College of Applied Life Studies, at the request of the provost
in September 2003 after faculty attrition and increasing student enrollments
overextended community health faculty members and raised concerns about
the department’s ability to meet student demand.
According to the proposal, since 1997, community health has lost 68
percent of its faculty members, including all five assistant professors
in one year. Efforts to recruit replacements, including a department
head, have not been successful. The department has only five tenure-track
faculty members, who are supported by four full-time instructors, six
part-time instructors and seven “zero time” faculty members.
However, student demand for community health programs remains strong,
and the number of community health majors doubled from 170 students
in academic year 95-96 to 343 in AY04-05.
The task force recommended a merger between community health and kinesiology
after examining the possibility of mergers with kinesiology, leisure
studies or speech and hearing sciences.
Abbas Aminmansour, chair of the Educational Policy Committee, told the
senate that an extensive evaluation process was undertaken, and that
faculty and staff members and students from the affected departments
were given ample opportunities, including executive sessions and anonymous
e-mails, to express their concerns.
Approximately 200 universities, including several Big Ten universities
and major research institutions, have combined community health and
kinesiology departments, Aminmansour said. A merger would strengthen
both departments and help attract top-quality faculty members, might
facilitate larger start-up packages for new hires and would foster collaborative
research, Aminmansour said. The merger would not affect degree programs
in either department.
Senators expressed concerns that there would be a lack of shared intellectual
interests among faculty members in kinesiology and community health,
that the merger would eclipse community health, that it would be negatively
perceived by students and possibly lead to declining enrollment in community
Gallagher; Robert Rich, professor in the Institute of Government and
Public Affairs and of law; and Joe Goldberg, professor of clinical medicine,
expressed support for the resolution, saying the merger would bolster
community health, not diminish it. Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko, head of kinesiology,
told the senate that kinesiology has approximately $6 million in extramural
funding, the majority of which is related to health issues, representing
a “clear and apparent overlap in many of the things we do.”
The proposal will go to the trustees for approval and would be effective
Pat Askew, vice chancellor for student affairs, apprised senators of
the Nov. 1 death of Associate Provost David Swanson, and said, “We
have lost a very wonderful colleague today,” before reading the
e-mail announcement sent to the campus community by Interim Chancellor
Richard Herman and Acting Provost Jesse Delia.
Mary Mallory, vice chair of the Senate Executive Committee and head
of the Government Documents Library, reported on SEC activities and
said the committees on General University Policy and University Statutes
and Senate Procedures might be nearing a consensus on the proposal for
multi-year employment contracts. Statutory revisions may be presented
at the Senate’s December meeting, Mallory said.
Mallory also reported that at the Annual Meeting of the Faculty, Stephen
Kaufman, professor of cell and structural biology, proposed that the
SEC investigate if the current process of selecting members for the
board of trustees best serves the university. The SEC rephrased the
proposal as an initiative “to ensure that the best-qualified people
are selected to serve on the board” and conveyed it to the University
Senates Conference for action since the matter affects all three UI
Peter Loeb, professor of mathematics, and Jianmin Fang, postdoctoral
research associate in veterinary pathobiology, voiced concerns about
the ethics program that state employees are being required to complete,
saying that the material is not relevant to many UI employees’
jobs and the guidelines seem to suggest that faculty and staff members
should delete all e-mail messages containing political content without
reading them. Loeb suggested that the university create its own training.
- The senate passed
a proposal renaming the Afro-American Studies and Research Program
the African American Studies and Research Program, consistent with
nomenclature used by peer institutions, organizations and the media.
- Revised the curriculum
for the bachelor of science degree in the College of Liberal Arts
and Sciences to require two semesters of research experience.
- The senate approved
nominees for membership on the Conference on Conduct Governance, the
Educational Policy Committee, the State Universities Retirement System
Members Advisory Committee and the Campus Budget Oversight Committee.
John Prussing, chair of the Committee on Committees and professor
of aeronautical and astronautical engineering, apprised the senate
there are two current vacancies for faculty members on the Educational
Policy Committee and an upcoming vacancy on the State Universities
Retirement System Members Advisory Committee. Prussing urged faculty
members interested in serving on the committees to contact him.
- In executive
session, the senate considered nominations for honorary degrees from
the Senate Committee on Honorary Degrees.