William & Mary

The future of activity courses

The following is a statement by President Taylor Reveley on the future of activity courses at William & Mary. - Ed.

In recent weeks, I have received questions from students and alumni about the future of activity courses at William & Mary. Below is a response I have shared directly with some who have contacted me. I think it is helpful to have that response available more broadly for anyone with questions.

I’ve long been persuaded that these classes have real meaning for those students who participate, and I have made clear it’s important that such opportunities continue to be offered at W&M without interruption. 

This does not mean, however, that they must be offered in precisely the same way they have been offered in the recent past. Over the generations, there has been much evolution in how W&M provides physical activities and related education for students. There has been much evolution, of course, in all our physical and academic offerings over the generations.  Without it, W&M would have long since been left in the dust amid the enormous change that now characterizes our society and world.   

In short, W&M is modifying its approach to activities classes, not abolishing them.  After careful planning that began early last winter, a group of faculty and staff has developed a plan for offering such courses in the broader context of “wellness,” rather than Kinesiology.  

Let me say a bit more about this. W&M’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Sciences, consistent with national trends in its field, has moved away from its origins as a Department of Physical Education. Thus, over the past two decades, Kinesiology and Health Sciences has evolved from a program that primarily offered activities-based classes to a department fully focused on science, modifying its curriculum to focus on anatomy, nutrition, movement and global health. These developments have resulted in the department’s decision to no longer offer activities courses as part of its curriculum. This decision was made and communicated several years ago; it is neither a sudden development nor a surprise.

Simply because activities classes no longer belong in Kinesiology, however, does not mean they no longer belong at William & Mary. Quite to the contrary! The university does clearly recognize the importance of these classes to interested students, and we will continue to offer one-credit courses that focus on wellness activities (for instance, kayaking, canoeing and swimming), including a component of academic content related to the experience. The goal is to place these courses in a context that will enrich the value they have for our students’ physical, academic and emotional wellbeing and for their lifelong enjoyment of the activities. These classes will first be available during fall term 2018. Thus, there will be no interruption in the availability of activities classes, since the current program continues through this academic year. Further details will be available this spring.

By way of perspective, it also helps to keep in mind the full range of non-varsity physical activities that are available on campus. They far transcend the activities offered in the courses in question. There is a rich profusion of such opportunities under the aegis of our Office of Student Affairs. Through its Campus Recreation program, we now have 43 club sports plus myriad intramural teams, as well as these activities:

  • Pilates
  • Body Pump
  • Zumba
  • Yoga
  • Vinyasa Yoga
  • Yinn Yoga
  • Cardio hi-hop
  • Barre
  • Pedal-N-Plie
  • Cardio Core
  • Cycling
  • Step Aerobics
  • Cardio Dance
  • Body Combat
  • High Intensity Interval Training
  • TRX
  • Self-Defense
  • Tai Chi

And through Campus Recreation's Tribe Adventure Program (TAP), there are these challenging opportunities:         

  • Climbing Wall (inside the Rec Center)
  • Challenge Course (outdoor ropes course)
  • Skydiving
  • Backpacking
  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Climbing
  • Caving
  • Paddling and Canoeing
  • Hang Gliding
  • Stand-Up Paddleboarding

As TAP says: “Whether you are a student group looking for a unique teambuilding opportunity, or a staff who needs a break from the office, or just a group of friends looking to go on an adventure, TAP can guide you on an unforgettable experience!” 

 Bottom line: In myriad ways, students can find demanding, life-changing physical activity at William & Mary these days.  Formal activity courses will remain in this mix as a very valuable, if small, part of a much larger whole.

Taylor Reveley