The University of Nebraska at Omaha’s School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER) is changing its name to the School of Health and Kinesiology (H&K) August 2017.
A 2014 external review agreed with faculty sentiments that the school’s name no longer reflected the larger scope of its curriculum, according to college of education professor Mike Messerole and Campus Rec staff members Courtney Luxon and Mike Kult. The school started as a 1940s physical education program but now holds over 300 classes in a variety of topics for around 6,800 students each year.
HPER Director Ron Bulbulian said that the school’s current name doesn’t reflect the wide-range of majors, such as exercise physiology, athletic training and physical education, the building encompasses.
“Today, our students explore a wide variety of disciplines dedicated to improving quality of life.” Bulbulian said. “The name Health and Kinesiology encompasses all of these areas and supports market trends in dynamic and growing disciplines.”
Renaming the school also aligned with Bulbulian and the staff’s goals for the school; the school made changing the name a top priority during a strategic planning retreat January 2016. The University of Nebraska Board of Regents approved the name October 2016.
Other names considered included combinations of health, nutrition, wellness, kinesiology, exercise sciences, movement sciences and more.
“[Bulbulian] brought with him an interest in redefining the mission and vision of the school within a new health and wellness focused environment and a desire to be current with national trends in these areas,” according to Messerole, Luxon and Kult. Bulbulian joined the school as director in 2015.
Staff took inspiration from HPER’s “Why Wall” project, an event asking students why they were HPER majors and why they were earning a bachelor’s degree. Answers were posted outside the school’s academic office.
“The name change to the School of Health & Kinesiology was unanimously supported by HPER faculty and staff,” according to Messerole, Luxon and Kult, “as they felt it represented not only the programs currently offered but one which would also poise the school for future growth, new programs, successful grant funding and student recruitment in the next few decades.”
The project, mostly updating signage, should cost around $10,000. New signs will appear throughout the year. The HPER building will also carry the school’s new name.
The School of HPER has kept its name since being established in 1975 (“after much campaigning by Dr. Richard Flynn,” according to Messerole, Luxon and Kult). Building construction was completed in 1980. Before that, there was the Department of HPER.
Students may have trouble getting used to calling the school H&K after so many decades of calling it HPER.
“Honestly, I prefer ‘HPER’ because that’s what I’ve known,” junior Carlie Stevens, a building manager at HPER, said. “But if the school thinks it’s necessary, then I’m up for it.”
More than 11,000 students entered the HPER building a total 520,217 times between Feb. 1, 2016, and Feb. 1, 2017, according to Campus Recreation. The School of H&K will continue to share its building with the Wellness Center.