The result will be a larger, more robust academic entity that will fill many needs for students while also giving faculty more opportunities to excel in teaching, research/scholarship and service. Staff can capitalize on synergies to collaborate and grow opportunities that will better serve students.
“We’re putting together a community,” said Rafael Bahamonde, interim dean of the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management. “Our missions were already kind of similar in a way; now we complement each other very well.”
The School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences is a leader in graduate health and rehabilitation sciences, preparing students for practice in those fields while impacting countless lives through its community-engagement initiatives and research. Its many studies include examining the effects of exercise on health conditions affecting millions of Americans.
The School of Physical Education and Tourism Management, or PETM, is the oldest academic unit at IUPUI. It has an expansive focus on wellness, which includes exercise science, physical education, fitness management and personal training in addition to sports management and tourism, conventions and events management.
Also at their meeting last week, the board of trustees approved a PETM Ph.D. program in exercise science – a program, just to name one, that can be enhanced in the new School of Health & Human Sciences.
“Once that’s implemented, we believe we’ll have opportunities with our Ph.D. in health sciences to look at combining some of the courses, like research methodology, so we can bring those students together while still providing the two different degree paths based on what best fits the student’s interest,” said Rebecca Porter, interim dean of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.
“This is an opportunity to enhance activities that we’re engaged in but have the potential to grow. Those include faculty research and community service activities, but more importantly looking at how we can provide students with the optimal educational experience.”
Faculty and staff from the two schools came together earlier this year on a task force to explore the possibility of realignment, and when a report was shared at a joint meeting of both schools in August, there was wide support for the conversations to continue.
In early November, faculty and staff from each school voted on the proposal to become one school. It passed by a wide margin.
“We are extraordinarily fortunate that we have individuals who look at opportunities and are able to go through a process of logically assessing what are advantages and what would be drawbacks,” Porter said. “We moved through that process systematically and were able to identify that there weren’t any stopping points and that there were advantages that helped us collectively move further faster than we could do if we remained separate.”