Citing evolving trends in health and wellness, the School of Kinesiology will discontinue the major or minor in physical education and a minor in health education starting in the fall of 2015. It is being replaced by the new health and fitness major launched last fall.
That recommendation, from School of Kinesiology Dean Ron Zernicke, was approved Thursday by the Board of Regents.
“The decision to ask the regents to discontinue the physical education program was very carefully analyzed and systematically reviewed,” Zernicke said, citing low enrollment over the past decade. He said the decision to discontinue the program was reached following an extensive review that included input from current faculty and an external board made up of faculty from colleges and universities across the state of Michigan.
A 2012 report published by the U.S. Government Accountability Office stated the percentage of K-12 schools offering physical education at least three days a week has significantly decreased from 2000 to 2006. The 2006 federal School Health Policies and Programs study estimated the percentage of schools offering PE in all grades at least three days a week decreased by 44 percent in elementary schools, 15 percent in middle or junior high schools, and 56 percent in high schools.
In 2012, the School of Kinesiology laid the foundation for strategic directions and one of the key emphases that emerged was a focus on physical activity, health and wellness and nutrition. At that time, only three incoming freshmen indicated a major in physical education.
Physical activity, physical inactivity and obesity became a focus of the school and physical education faculty members considered how physical activity and health and fitness education and research could be transformed into a more comprehensive program. The result was the new health and fitness major.
“Physical education has changed names and forms over the last century at Michigan, from physical culture and hygiene, to physical education, to kinesiology, and now to health and fitness,” Zernicke said. “We take pride in the fact we are ranked in the top five kinesiology programs in the country and will continue to deliver groundbreaking research, interventions and programs that keep people of all ages and abilities healthy and active.”