Board of Trustees remove PE requirement

Following review by the Curricular Affairs Committee, the Board of Trustees voted to remove the physical education requirement for all undergraduate students after commencement weekend. “The rationale is complex, but the major issue is that this was not an education requirement, only an activity requirement,” Chair of the Curricular Affairs Committee and Professor Cynthia Forehand said. Following the decision in May, all students enrolled in fall 2009 physical education classes were notified that the requirement had been eliminated, Larry Mellinger, Assistant Director of Programs in the Department of Athletics and Campus Recreation, said.In an e-mail sent over the summer to students in the College of Arts and Sciences, Mark Galen Hall, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, stated the drop as well as the decrease in overall credit requirement from 122 to 120 credits. The change will apply to all students, regardless of class year, the e-mail said. Forehand said that the physical education department was struggling to offer enough courses to meet the needs of the students for graduation. Most of the courses for students to take to meet the requirement had been outsourced to adjunct faculty and external facilities, where students often had to pay both tuition and a facility fee.According to Mellinger, some classes are being removed from the schedule due to low enrollment, but most still have a good number of students enrolled. “We are taking the removal of the PEAC requirement as an opportunity to modify the program, make sure that we are offering a diverse schedule of classes that meets the needs of the students and continue to promote the benefits of healthy living and physical education as a vital component of each student’s education,” Mellinger said. Despite the cut, Forehand said that the faculty and administration feel strongly that physical activity is an important component of student well-being.  Mellinger said that he thinks students who choose not to participate in a physical activity or recreate are missing a valuable part of their education.  “But regardless of the requirement, those opportunities will still be available to all UVM students through PEAC and Campus Recreation,” Mellinger said. “For students who were interested in classes in the past but couldn’t get into them because of full rosters, there will be opportunities for them to get into those classes now,” he said. According to Forehand, the two-credit physical education requirement was a university requirement dating back to the 1940s.