Mid 1800s Physical Education courses were required for all students and taught by Dr. Ebson. Men took physical activity classes taught by faculty and participated in athletics governed by students.
1851 Regents establish a co-educational charter for UW–Madison making it a “pioneer in courses for women in higher education.”*
1863 Women had been officially admitted to the University in 1863 (though relegated to the periphery of the Normal School), and immediately the issue of their physical health was addressed by the Board of Regents. In their report for that year, they declared, “A gymnasium will be fitted up in the South Building, where ladies will be trained in Lewis’s new system of gymnastics.”
1876 Women were involved in a number of activities entitled “physical culture for ladies.” President Bascom was suspicious of very strenuous physical activity but approved of low-key recreation, so during his tenure physical activity remained largely informal.
1889 Clara E.S. Ballard arrived from Boston’s Allen School of Gymnastics in 1889. She convinced the Board of Regents to allow her space in Ladies’ Hall to conduct voluntary classes in physical culture.
1894 Pauline Bauer takes Ballard’s place.
1896 Sara Baudren takes Bauer’s place.
1987 Miss (Shaw) Mayhew was appointed as Mistress of Ladies’ Hall and Instructor of Physical Culture. She came from Boston’s School of Gymnastics, or the Sargent School of PE.
1902 By 1902, Abby Mayhew was arguing in the Daily Cardinal for a program consisting only of sports, which “best draws out the body, and produces health and happiness.”
1902 WAA and the physical education department were partners. The WAA student-run board was supervised by physical education faculty and the two entities collaborated so often that it is difficult to draw clear lines between them.
1910 Lathrop Hall, named for the first chancellor of the UW, John Lathrop, opens featuring five floors, a swimming pool, a bowling alley, a cafeteria, and a large, fully equipped gymnasium. It served as the Women’s Union serving 3,000 daily.
1911 Clark Hetherington established a BA in physical education at the UW. Hetherington has an award named for him by the American Academy of Physical Education.
1912 Blanche Trilling to head the physical education department. Trilling, who had been the director of physical education at Chicago Normal School (later Chicago Teacher’s College), arrived at Wisconsin in 1912. She left an indelible mark on the school and on the direction and organization of women’s sports nationwide. A colleague once remarked of Trilling that a list of her accomplishments “would mean enumeration of almost every important advance in Physical Education.” Under her care, the department expanded, the fledgling professional course matured, and the number of activities multiplied. The program for majors, one of the first of its kind in the country, was geared toward producing teachers of physical education. In 1912, there were ten majors; by 1920, there were 134 majors and 28 minors. The first class, three in number, graduated in 1913. The intensive program required a heavy load in the hard sciences (biology, chemistry, physiology, and anatomy), 10 hours of practice per week (uncredited until 1932), student teaching, and a week of field work, during which the students were sent into the community to live and teach.
1912 Mayhew traveled to China with the YMCA to do teacher training for Chinese girls.
1912 George Ehler was the head of PE for both men and women.
1917 Trilling encouraged Margaret H’Doubler to investigate dance in New York.
1917 Trilling developed what was the first women’s organization for sports called the Athletic Conference of American College Women. This gave women a chance to play sports competitively but not at the college level. The ACACW became the standard bearer for women’s sports for many decades until the NCAA stepped in and became the head of women’s sports.
1919 First BS in PE. It was the first curriculum in the nation designed to develop the whole individual (intellectual, physical, emotional).
1920s Trilling helped to develop a women’s section in the American Physical Education Association. Along with Mrs. Herbert Hoover, she developed standards for girls in sports for the National Amateur Athletic Foundation.
1925 Hired Gladys Bassett.
1926 Margaret H’Doubler, as an instructor in the UW–Madison Department of Physical Education for Women starting in the 1910s, had the progressive vision to recognize the value of dance as a cultural, artistic, and physical activity. Emphasizing dance as both emotional expression and scientific description, H’Doubler worked with the UW School of Education to establish not only the first dance classes on campus but also, in 1926, the first degree-granting academic program of dance within an American institution of higher learning.
1927 MS degree in PE with a dance specialization established.
1928 Hired Kay Cronin in Teacher Education.
1929 Developed a certificate in Physical Therapy.
1930 Hired Ruth Glassow to teach “Kinesiology” (Biomechanics). Glassow was honored with the Gulick Award from AAHPERD, and the Hetherington Award from the Academy.
1930 Administrative control of Wisconsin athletics was in dispute during the 1930s. Historically, the directors of the men’s and women’s physical education departments reported to the same supervisor. In June of 1930, the women’s department gained its independence, and the professional curriculum was folded into the School of Education.
1931 Trilling received the Honor Fellow Award of the American Physical Education Association.
1933 Doctoral degree through the School of Education is established.
1934 Started field experiences in elementary schools (Franklin and Nakoma).
1940 Trilling was one of two women in her time to receive the Honor recognition of the University League of Madison for her achievement at the University of Wisconsin in 1940.
1946 Trilling retires and Marie Carns is hired.
1947 Trilling receives the Gulick award from AAHPERD.
1950 Lawrence Rarick is hired as the first man to teach in the women’s department. Rarick received the Hetherington and was named the Alliance Scholar by AAHPERD.
1950-1960 During Leonard Larson’s years at UW–Madison, Leonard coordinated efforts to develop a joint graduate program comprised of professors from the former Department of Physical Education for Men and the Department of Physical Education for Women.
1963 Lolas Halverson and Muriel Sloan alternated as chairs of the Women’s Department until the merger.
1970 The increasing size and complexity of Wisconsin’s sports program, coupled with the responsibilities of supporting intramurals through the Women’s Recreation Association (the WAA’s successor), proved too much for the physical education department to bear.
1974 During the 1974-1975 academic year, Kit Saunders, a former instructor in the Physical Education department, was appointed the first director of the women’s athletic program, to oversee eleven sports with an $188,000 budget.
1976 The Department of PE for Women merged with the Department of PE for Men to become the Department of Physical Education and Dance. The women gradually moved to the Natatorium as space became available. By 1991, the Motor Development and Child Study Lab and Biomechanics were still housed in Lathrop. The men moved to the Natatorium as soon as the merger occurred.
1992 The Department of Physical Education and Dance and the Department of Therapeutic Science merged into the newly establish Department of Kinesiology.
2014 A Bachelor of Science degree is once again offered in Physical Education.