Facts support keeping physical education

Nearly a year ago to this day, the UA Strategic Planning and Budget Advisory Committee reported that the physical education program should be eliminated because it was not central to the university's mission.

The recommendation by SPBAC came without warning and there was almost no input solicited by P.E. faculty or students. As one associate professor said, "The students feel like this is kind of out of the blue and have had little time to respond . We have had no indication that we were not central or not doing what the university expected us to be doing."

Over the past year, the department has fought against its possible elimination, even though it has seemed like a done deal from the start. Protests have been held. Students went before the Arizona Board of Regents. Alumni made sure their voices were heard at open forums. One student said, "It seems that all the information and facts we are giving are falling on deaf ears, the people who are making the decisions aren't using the information we are giving them."

Last Tuesday, that information was finally used, when the Faculty Senate Special Committee on the Reorganization of Exercise and Sports Sciences released its report strongly recommending that the program be kept open. The report found:

Program reviews used by administrators to guide their decisions were incomplete and sometimes relied on inaccurate data.

Other Arizona universities cannot meet the demands in teacher preparation for P.E. that will be placed on them if the UA program is cut.

The P.E. program's mission in identical to the overall university's mission.

The committee also found that looking strictly at the cost-benefit ratio, it makes sense to keep the P.E. department open. Cutting the department would cost the Tucson community more than $1 million compared to the $588,000 it costs to keep the department open.

The Faculty Senate Committee received input from more than 200 people compared to the initial SPBAC recommendation and Sypherd's recommendation which were made with minimal input from faculty. The administration has been content to steamroll through the elimination process as quickly as possible.

SPBAC even backed down from its initial proposal of eliminating the department. SPBAC changed its recommendation calling for the elimination of for-credit athletic classes only and keeping the P.E. program together. The administration ignored the revised recommendation and continued to press on with the first proposal.

The Faculty Senate will vote today on whether to approve the special committee's report. The evidence gathered by the committee overwhelming supports a vote of confidence for the physical education program.

Students and alumni have shown strong support for the P.E. program. If the Faculty Senate approves the committee's findings, faculty will have also demonstrated support for the program. Who in the university community will continue to push for the elimination of the P.E. program? High-level administrators.

Since the initial recommendation, the UA administration has shown unwavering faith in itself and its decisions. Any questioning of that faith has been seen as a weakness. With the amount of press devoted to the departmental cuts, the administration has developed a bunker mentality. No matter how much validity points have, administration has refused to listen.

With the Faculty Senate Committee's report, it is time for the administration to take its hands off its ear and start listening. The administration needs to reconsider the elimination recommendation. The initial program reviews used by the administrators were incomplete and contained inaccurate data. The recent findings show that it is more cost-effective for the state to keep the P.E. program open. Students and alumni support the program. There is only one thing keeping the elimination proposal alive the administration's own hubris.

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