It is always exciting to see our new and returning student’s fill the hallways of Fetzer and Woollen as we begin a new academic year. Our classes are filled to capacity and our faculty is ready to make an impact on our students in the classrooms, laboratory, and field settings. This is an especially enthusing time as we are able to reflect back on the accomplishments during the 2014-15 academic year. A summary of key accomplishments by EXSS faculty students can be seen in Figure 1. More importantly, this is a time to make plans for new priorities and objectives in 2015-16 that will move us closer towards achieving our ultimate goal of increasing the public impact of Exercise and Sport Science. A summary of our strategic plan and key priorities for the upcoming year is seen in Figure 2.
There are many areas to be proud of when reflecting on the achievements of our faculty and students in 2014-15. Last year we graduated 285 undergraduates from EXSS, which is 10% increase from the previous year. We are now the 7th largest undergraduate major at UNC and the 3rd largest major in the Natural Sciences as we estimate there are now over 1,300 EXSS majors. Our faculty work hard to manage this exponential growth and our success is reflected by our four-year graduation rate (94%) and high ratings from our graduating senior students (overall experience = 8.3 out of 10). We were equally efficient at the graduate level as 100% of our masters students complete their thesis and degree requirements within two years. One of our strategic objectives is to maintain a high-level of academic quality in all programs and be a role model for our peers. To continue our efforts in this area we have outlined several new priorities for the upcoming academic year.
- Increase experiential education opportunities
- Increase implementation of “high impact” teaching activities
- Undergraduate course / curriculum review / revision
- Implement an EXSS alumni survey
- Revise teaching evaluation process
In addition to providing an excellent academic experience, our faculties are leaders the way in their areas of research. We observed a substantial increase (47%) in the amount of external funding for research (~$1.8 million) in 2014-15. This is especially impressive considering that our faculty continued to publish (151 scientific publications) and present at high levels. We plan to build from our success with the following research priorities this coming year.
- Increase faculty submitting for external funding
- Increase participation in the EXSS grant development program
- Maintain grant funding secured above $1.5 million
- Streamline our grant submission and award management process
- Maintain presentation and publication quantity
- Increase number of “high impact” / “top tier” publication
- Develop journal quality rankings across specialization areas
We will also continue to put significant effort into communicating with our students, alumni and faculty about the amazing things that are occurring within EXSS. Our objective is to ensure that EXSS and outside community members are well informed about our mission, vision, goal and achievements. There was a great deal of information to share in 2014-15 as our faculty and students received many awards and recognition for their outstanding accomplishments. A total of 17 different awards / fellowships were received by faculty members in EXSS last year. Our students were equally impressive as 9 different awards / fellowship / grants were received by our undergraduate and graduate students in 2014-15. I’m certain that we will see continued success by our faculty and students in the coming year. We are committed to sharing this news and as such we will work diligently towards the following engagement priorities this year.
- Continue weekly EXSS impact blog posts
- Implement a monthly EXSS impact webinar / video series
- Promote faculty and student accomplishments
- Develop and implement an EXSS nominating committee
Be sure to stay up to date on EXSS news by following us on Facebook (uncexss) and instagram (@uncexss), like us on twitter (@uncexss), and subscribe to email updates from our departmental blog (uncexss.wordpress.com). Also, feel free to email me directly (email@example.com) with any information you feel would be good to share with our community.
In closing, thank you for your support of EXSS and for all that you will do this year to make an impact. I hope you have a great start to your academic year and I look forward to making an “#EXSSimpact with you all in 2015-16.
P.S. For an in depth look into the impact our faculty and students made in 2014-15, be sure to see our department’s Annual Report.
Darin A. Padua, PhD, ATC