Admissions to the exercise biology (EXB) major will be suspended for the 2013-14 school year, and the major will potentially be combined with the neurobiology, physiology and behavior (NPB) major.
In the spring of 2012, a committee formed within the department of NPB to reorganize the exercise biology program in the face of budget cuts, increasing enrollments and declines in the number of faculty members. The committee includes professors Dave Furlow, Mark Goldman, Tom Hahn, Samantha Harris, Gaby Nevitt and Marty Usrey.
The goal of the committee is to find a way to combine the increasingly popular exercise biology and NPB majors into a combined program.
The committee hopes that through the reorganization, the school will be able to use limited resources for the exercise biology major more efficiently, promote increased collaboration across departments and offer courses to students who are interested in research, graduate school or careers related to integrative biology.
“Either it needs to be an impacted major or combined with another major,” said David A. Hawkins, professor of neurobiology, physiology and behavior.
Currently, the NPB major has approximately 950 students and the EXB major has approximately 650 students. Approximately 60 percent of the students in biological sciences majors declare an emphasis in NPB.
“I think the exercise biology major involves a lot of what is not offered outside of the other biology majors,” said Megan Barrett, an exercise biology peer advisor.
The committee unanimously decided that combining the available resources for both majors into one program with the option of emphasizing in specialties within the combined program would be the most effective and efficient action.
“If the program gets combined, many aspects of the major will go away. The degree will be limited in terms of the coursework,” Hawkins said.
The committee emphasized the importance of continuing extensive competitive research in the area of organismal biology, including neuroscience, physiology, animal behavior and exercise biology.
One of the committee’s goals is to provide an adequate exercise biology program for the students who are already in the major while continuing to organize an integrated NPB and EXB major for future students.
“My experience with the EXB major has been excellent thus far, and it would be a shame if incoming students were deprived of the opportunities and options that the major offers,” said Shannon Harcus, a third-year exercise biology major.
Harcus said she believes that the administration should try to find a way to combine the majors while still preserving the original academic structure of the major.
Hawkins said that, with the limited resources to support the major, the organization of the major needs to be revised.
“If EXB remains as its own major, it would need better infrastructure with the large number of students,” he said.
Hawkins said that the committee is still in the process of determining the best course of action.
Jim Trimmer, Chairperson of the department of NPB declined to comment at this time.
KELLEY DRECHSLER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.