Department hopes to save itself from elimination

By Joseph Barrios

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Faculty members in the Department of Physical Education are preparing their own phase-out while trying to save the department from elimination.

During an open meeting Sept. 28, University of Arizona Provost Paul Sypherd said he would recommend the department's closure to President Manuel T. Pacheco. He said physical education was advised to prepare a set of guidelines that would slowly shut the department down over the next three years.

Judy Sorensen, academic adviser for physical education, said the department is planning to present appeals to the Faculty Senate, which will vote on the decision later this semester, and to the Arizona Board of Regents, which will have the final say on the matter.

And while the 13 faculty members in the department are not quick to accept the closure of their department, Sorensen said she feels they have a "professional responsibility" to prepare for the phase-out.

"We have got to be fair to our students in our programs. But we have to protect them the best we can," Sorensen said.

The department is one of four departments on campus being considered for elimination or combination with another department. The others are journalism, nuclear engineering and statistics.

Cutting the department would conflict with the UA's commitment as a land-grant institution to serve Arizona's educational needs, Sorensen said. She said Arizona had 72 qualified candidates to fill 118 positions as physical education teachers in the state's elementary schools, middle schools and high schools.

About 250 undergraduates are enrolled in the UA program.

"Our kids get jobs, and they get teaching jobs in the state. It makes me personally feel like we lost the war before there was a battle," Sorensen said.

Shawna Jones, a student in the department and a teacher at Flowing Wells High School, said closing the department would have a trickle-down effect on public schools in southern Arizona. Physical education would be taught by teachers "off the street" with no formal training, she said.

Maureen Murphy, chair of Pima Community College's fitness and sport sciences department, said Pima's physical education program is patterned directly after the UA's program.

If the recommendation is approved, she said, then Pima's program would essentially close.

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