Sports Studies minor dropped due to lack of able teachers

Andy Jobanek

A supplement to the activity courses for many years, the Sports Studies, Recreation and Athletics (SSRA) minor has been officially dropped.

The decision follows a 2006 self-study and a fall 2007 restructuring that scaled the minor down to fit the amount of staff available. Since then, Skip Molitor and Juli Dunn have moved out of their full-time teaching positions to new jobs with the college, depleting the department’s staff even further.

“We’re making a shift towards more activities as opposed to the theory courses simply because we don’t have the staff to continue to offer a viable minor,” said Whitman Athletic Director and chair of the SSRA minor Dean Snider.

The drop in staff has been a multi-year process in which the college has reallocated the faculty positions that open up when a coach who taught SSRA lecture courses has left the position. As a result, when new coaches were hired, they would not fill the teaching roles of their predecessor because another department filled that spot.

Upperclassmen at Whitman who have committed to the pursuit of the minor will still be awarded the minor when they graduate. Next year’s incoming first-year class will be the first class who won’t have the minor available to them. The SSRA department will retain all lecture courses; they will just not be offered every year.

In addition, the core classes within the department that train the student athletic trainers for Varsity athletic events will still be offered annually.

In the minor’s place, the Athletic Department has looked into adding a certain number of activity courses to Whitman’s distribution requirements.

“We believe that physical activity is a healthy part and a necessary part of an academic college experience and there are a lot of institutions very much like Whitman College that do have distribution requirements in physical education,” said Snider.

Among the colleges that Snider listed were Williams, Swarthmore and Pomona. The requirement at Pomona for example, is only one activity course in students’ first year at the college. However, a similar proposal to the Whitman faculty has not been drafted at this time, nor is it known exactly what it would require.

Before the late 1990s, athletic training certification had two paths. The first was the practical experience, while the other focused on coursework. The Whitman SSRA minor then helped aspiring trainers with both aspects and the framework for that remains.

Most commonly, graduates of the minor have continued in the field of athletic medicine.

Previously, the SSRA minor requirements were a course in first aid, a Physical Education Practicum, a Physical Education Senior Seminar and 11 other credits in other lecture courses. The department’s lecture courses ranged from coaching to Women and Sport.

The Whitman Athletic Department will add more activity courses in the future as part of its further emphasis on activity courses. The department will look at a variety of factors including popularity and feasibility before adding more courses.