History of the Kinesiology Department

Emeritus Professor Leonard Larson, a prominent physical educator at New York University, was recruited to serve as Director of the Department of Physical Education for Men in the late nineteen-fifties. One of his principal responsibilities included the development of a doctoral program in physical education. The central administration mandated that this program become a joint offering by the Department of Physical Education for Men and the Department of Physical Education for Women, and these academic units merged in 1978 to form the Department of Physical Education and Dance. Emeritus Professor Henry J. Montoye was recruited from the University of Tennessee to serve as the first chair of this newly formed department.

The Department of Kinesiology was formed in 1990, and this academic unit was comprised of the former Department of Physical Education and Dance and the Department of Therapeutic Science. The University Academic Planning Council, Faculty Senate, and Board of Regents approved this restructuring with the understanding that the Dance Program would become an independent department the following year. The Department of Therapeutic Science included the Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy Program at the time of this restructuring, but the Physical Therapy Program relocated to the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation in 1997. The first chair of the newly structured Department of Kinesiology was Emeritus Professor William P. Morgan who retired in 2005.

The Department of Kinesiology has evolved over the years to the point where it is now a multi-disciplinary academic unit with a mission to create, interpret, transmit and apply knowledge related to movement, exercise and human occupation with the ultimate goal of enhancing human health, productivity, and quality of life. Undergraduate and graduate degree programs leading to the B.S., M.S., and/or Ph.D. degrees are offered with specialization in athletic training, biomechanics, exercise physiology, exercise psychology, occupational therapy (occupational science), physical activity epidemiology, motor control and behavior, and teacher preparation. In addition an elective service program of physical activity is offered to the general student population.

Original author: Emeritus Professor William P. Morgan

Please view our Kinesiology Timeline to learn more about our Department’s rich history!

Women’s Physical Education: A History

The UW-Madison: Archives and Records Management Services maintains a wonderful website that deals with the rich history of women’s physical education, athletics and dance on the UW Campus.  It is well worth a visit.

Occupational Therapy

Caroline Thompson recalls the History of the Occupational Therapy Program.