Permanent closure of PHE recommended

PHE curriculum to be incorporated into a renewed Kinesiology program

Journal file photo

At this Tuesday’s Senate meeting, Arts and Science Interim Dean, Gordon Smith, announced that the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies (SKHS) has formally recommended the permanent closure of the Bachelor of Physical Health Education (BPHE) program.

The recommendation comes after the faculty requested a temporary suspension on admissions for PHE last September to assess the program under review.

The SKHS decided to suspend admission to the program for a number of reasons, including perceived overlap of curriculum content with the Kinesiology program and a decrease in PhD programs in the field, which reduced the number of available instructors.

In September of last year, Jean Côté, director of SKHS sent an email to all students and faculty in the program announcing the suspension of admission to the program. He wrote that the move was driven by a need to make the best use of limited resources in the School to continue delivering top quality undergraduate programs. Furthermore, he cited data that showed the PHE applicant pool had been slowly declining over the last few years while the KIN applicant pool almost doubled in size.

According to the University’s 2015 enrolment projections, the full headcount of students in the PHE program was at 206, 56 of which were incoming first year students. The Kinesiology program on the other hand had 389 students and was projected to grow 446 in 2017.

Smith said at the Senate meeting that SKHS plans to integrate aspects of the PHE curriculum into a “renewed program” while continuing to support current PHE students to ensure their path to graduation is uninterrupted.

Smith assured Senate that the decision was well-received by students and faculty alike, which was a sentiment echoed by current ASUS President Darrean Baga. The PHE/KIN program falls under the faculty of Arts and Science portfolio.

Brian  [MacKay, ASUS vice-president] and I truly appreciate the level of collaboration and transparency coming from the faculty,” Baga wrote via email. “Moving forward, we intend to ensure that the consultation and deliberation process is done in the best interests of Health, PHE, and KIN students.”

The decision to close the program requires further consultation and review before it can be officially implemented, but Smith explained at the Senate meeting that his announcement is the “first step in the closure process.”

According to Physical and Health Education and Kinesiology Students Association (PHEKSA) President Matthew Nelms, the proposal to close will be presented at the Arts and Science Faculty Board meeting in January. Following, it will need to be approved by “several higher governing bodies at Senate,” notably the Senate Committee on Academic Development.

“The School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, in partnership with the Dean’s Office at the Faculty of Arts and Science will be conducting several consultation events for students over the course of November, in-part directed by PHEKSA,” Nelms wrote in an email to The Journal.

Nelms wrote that the goal of these sessions will be to “provide additional clarification with regards to the process and rationale for the proposal, in addition to visioning exercises for the future of the programs at the SKHS.”

These consultations will be extended to Health Studies students as well, as the closure of PHE will likely modify their own curriculum.

Nelms emphasized the importance of gathering a diverse collection of student opinions to present in a report to Dean Smith in January, and he encourages students to fill out an online feedback form through the PHEKSA website.

“We are saddened by the recommendation for program closure, and we will continue to advocate for the best interest of the students as the process continues," Nelms wrote in conclusion.

In an email to The Journal on Thursday, Dean Smith wrote that recommending a program closure is never easy. “This is a program with a long history and proud alumni,” he said.

However, Smith remains optimistic about the future of the SKHS.

“This is an opportunity for the faculty and students to be innovative in designing what the programs and future of SKHS will look like – which may possibly lead to branching outside of serving only their current students to a broader Queen’s audience through new pathways and credentials.”

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