Starting January 1, 2018, the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation will have a new name.
It elected to adopt the new name of the Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation after a year-long process with stakeholders. This culminated with the University of Alberta General Faculties Council (GFC), the highest legislative board dealing with academic and student affairs, approving the change on September 25.
“We have not changed our name for 41 years and the field has changed quite a great deal,” said Kerry Mummery, the Dean of the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation. “When we started as a department every student came to be a Physical Education teacher. The field has … become much broader.”
This year, there are 1,200 students enrolled in the faculty but less than 5 per cent are enrolled in a stream to become a physical education teacher.
“The students were really demanding (the change), especially the undergraduates,” Mummery said. “We needed to respond so we were relevant when we were recruiting students and depicting what we do nationally.”
Mummery described the process for feedback as extensive and collaborative. Current undergraduates, graduates, alumni, community partners, other university officials, and universities across Canada were consulted.
“People felt engaged,” Mummery said. “Everyone had their opportunity to discuss this. No one has come to me and said they are particularly unhappy with the name or the process behind it.”
The Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation carries out research and offers many programs with sport as the field of study, including sport psychology and coaching. According to Mummery, many partner universities in Asia and Europe have already recognized sports academic standing by including it in the name.
“Sport is an academic discipline,” Mummery said. “For some reason, there is no faculty in the United States or Canada that uses sport as a faculty name. We think the addition of sport is an important term of differentiation for us.”
The name change will cost the faculty around $75,000 including the changes to the signs, stationery, recruitment materials, and website graphics.
“These costs are substantial,” Mummery said. “We don’t take this lightly.”
According to Mummery, research conducted by Marketing and Communications Department showed that the search terms online all had to do with kinesiology and not with physical education.
“The opportunity cost, what we feel we would be losing by not changing our name could be even greater, especially, over time,” Mummery said.
Twelve years ago, the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation had formally tried to change its name. According to Mummery, the motion was contested and ultimately failed.
“When this was tried, there were people who were completely opposed to changing the name,” Mummery said. “We have moved as a faculty.”
Other potential names included the Faculty of Kinesiology and the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation.
“It became apparent quite early on that kinesiology was the preferred name to replace physical education,” Mummery said. “Then the question was, will recreation stay in the name?”
The U of A has an extensive tradition surrounding the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation that shaped the name change process, Mummery said. It started as a department in 1945 as the Department of Physical Education. In 1964, faculty status was granted and in 1976 the name was changed to include recreation. The U of A was the first university in Canada and other Commonwealth nations to include the term recreation.
Overall, Mummery said the faculty is excited about the name change.
“We are looking forward to the name change,” Mummery said. “Having it, then watching it grow over time as our national and international partners and competitors respond.”