Defining Kinesiology and Leisure Studies

In 2002, after a year of studying similar programs around the nation and working with the OBU curriculum committee, OBU's Health, Physical Education and Recreation division changed its name to the division on Kinesiology and Leisure Studies.

While part of the name change was cosmetic, the emphasis also reflects the department's stronger leisure studies program.

"The change to KALS was partly a name change to clear up terminology," says Dr. Norris Russell, chairman of KALS. "There has been a trend among institutions in recent years to go from the 'Health, Physical Education' label to one that is more descriptive and comprehensive of what we do."

The name change also reflects the heart of the division.

"The old programs simply prepared students to teach and coach in the schools," says Norris. "The programs of more recent years have been much broader in scope, preparing students to do any number of things in the movement sciences in addition to teaching and coaching."

OBU has developed a strong reputation in those movement sciences, which include physical therapy, athletic training, sports medicine, sports nutrition and sports management. Additionally, very few schools certify students in the area of health, and OBU offered very few health-related courses under the former HPER umbrella.

The Leisure Studies area received the biggest facelift.

"Rather than just 'recreation,' we modified our curriculum and students can now choose among camp administration, sports ministry, and recreation as areas of emphasis within the leisure studies component," says Norris. "These changes, once marketed, should place our leisure studies program on the cutting edge in that field."

No one was happier about that than Dr. Bill Buchanan, associate professor of church recreation.

"HPER was really outdated," Bill says. "We really want to be on the cutting edge with this and I think we will be. We want to have a program that other universities look to as a role model. I'm excited about it."

Buchanan did much of the research behind the change. He studied HPER programs offered at numerous universities, surveyed recreation professionals and interviewed alumni. The research led to discoveries about what courses were of value and which ones needed to be repackaged.

He studied programs at 21 other Baptist universities, 25 private universities and 10 state universities. He also contacted several professional organizations, such as the church recreation division of Lifeway Christian Resources, Church Camps International and the International Sports Federation to gather their opinions about what students need to know in preparation for their chosen vocations.

OBU's new Leisure Studies Management degree's three emphases - camp administration, recreation and sports ministry - are now more focused and will make graduates more marketable.

OBU also benefits from additional teaching resources for the degree. The International Sports Federation, which oversees a variety of overseas ministries, will conduct seminars on campus and assist in teaching a course at no cost to OBU.

The sports ministry emphasis will allow graduates opportunities in overseas missions, domestic missions, and ministries in the local church.

The camp administration concentration is designed to give graduates marketability in diverse camp settings. Buchanan cited Falls Creek and Kannakuk as examples of camps that could benefit from hiring OBU camp administration graduates.