Department of Kinesiology Looks to the Future with New Name

The UNC Charlotte Department of Kinesiology is now the Department of Applied Physiology, Health, and Clinical Sciences. The change comes at the end of a long research campaign aimed at settling on terminology that would enhance the possibilities for new programs, recruitment, enrollment potential and overall growth.

“There’s inherently nothing wrong with the term ‘kinesiology,’” said department chair David Bellar. UNC Charlotte, however, was unique in that it offers two of the four core areas that traditionally fall under the umbrella of kinesiology and four additional core areas that do not. As the department expanded and incorporated new disciplines, it outgrew the scope of the term. “From a strategic planning standpoint, it made a lot more sense to look at finding a name that was more reflective of our current and future aspirations,” Bellar added.

The new name better represents the health and clinical science programs in the department and follows a national trend. “Applied physiology,” Bellar said, “captures the scientific focus of the bachelor’s in exercise science, the master’s in kinesiology, and the research interest of the affiliated faculty, and clinical sciences is representative of respiratory therapy and athletic training programs.” The term “health” denotes the department’s location in the College of Health and Human Services.

There are tangible benefits to the change, and already several discussions around new programs in line with it. “There’s a huge amount of clinical jobs and research in the Charlotte area,” said Bellar. “Under the new name, we’re looking to be responsive to the health and clinical science job market in the Charlotte area. We’re evaluating our programs and curriculum to train our undergraduate students to have enough education to take advantage of these well-paying job opportunities.” Second, applied physiology and clinical sciences are STEM disciplines. This gives the university stronger connections to STEM institutions like the National Science Foundation. It also offers funding opportunities and access to new programs for students and opens up opportunities for faculty to engage in multidisciplinary efforts.

The department is now working on communication strategies to make sure students are aware of the new name, what’s going to change, and what’s going to stay the same. Though Bellar believes it will take through the fall semester to make the complete switch, smaller pieces have begun to fall into place. Students and professors already identify with the new unit name, and Banner and Niner Research also reflect the change. “It’s actually pretty remarkable progress so far in getting a lot of the systems turned over,” said Bellar.

The name change opens up a wealth of research-related and educational possibilities for students and faculty and solidifies the department’s place in 21st-century health education. “We’re excited,” said Bellar, “and we’re already exploring new undergraduate certificate possibilities and different programs than we would ever have considered underneath the old title, and so I think this new name is going to be a wonderful palette for us to expand our vision and our scope of where the future of the department—and the university—goes.”