ECU's HHP a new school
(Sept. 8, 1993)
The evolution of health and physical education programs reached a milestone at East Carolina University this year when the Department of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Safety (H.P.E.R.S.) became a full-fledged school.
The School of Health and Human Performance is ECU’S 11th professional school. Officially launched July 1, the school follows a slow but orderly expansion trend in health and physical education programs underway at ECU for more than 60 years ago.
The new school is comprised of three new departments administered by acting department heads. Dr. David White is the acting chair for Health Education; Ms. Catherine Bolton for Physical Education; and Dr. Karen Hancock for Leisure Systems Studies. Searches for these chair positions are being planned.
These new departments house a variety of programs, including some of the university’s high visibility outreach and research programs. Among them are Sports Medicine, the Human Performance Laboratory and the Biomechanics Laboratory.
Dr. Carolyn H. Hampton, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, is currently serving as the interim dean of the new school. Hampton is a long-time member of the ECU faculty. She holds her rank and tenure in the Department of Biology.
Hampton said she welcomes her new role and looks forward to being a part of the school’s early development.
“It’s something the H.P.E.R.S. faculty has wanted for several years,” she said. “I think it’s great that the department has achieved school status.”
She noted that some of the programs within the new school have already attained state and regional acclaim. Sports Medicine, for example, is one of only two programs in the state approved by the National Athletic Trainers Association. The Human Performance Lab undertakes important research on health and fitness and offers services to the public to assess an individual’s risk of heart disease.
“These programs and the other academic disciplines will help the new school become one of the best in the country,” Hampton said.
Although the School of Health and Human Performance is new, physical and health education, and recreation programs at ECU enjoy a long history. Dr. Mary Jo Bratton, ECU’s historian, said the Department of Physical Education was earmarked for expansion as far back as 1930. The expansion, according to a planning document, was needed because “physical education, in connection with instruction in health, has come to be considered a major subject in public school work.”
Also contributing to expansion within the department in the 1930s were the increase in the number of men students at East Carolina and the birth of intercollegiate athletics.
By 1941, the department underwent its first name change to the Department of Health and Physical Education.
The department moved into its new home, Memorial Gymnasium, in 1952. The new gym was officially dedicated on Jan. 6, 1953 in memory of the late football coach John Christenbury and 26 other alumni who died in the war.
The dedication ceremony for the department’s new home came during another milestone event. ECU officially dedicated the new Christenbury Memorial Health and Physical Education building at half-time of East Carolina’s first basketball game with the University of North Carolina. Following the ceremony, Carolina pulled away to win the game by 13 points.
Over the years the Department Health and Physical Education continued to g