Ready, Set, Go: Make your EXSS Impact in 2015-16

EXSS Year In Review By The Numbers 2014-15

Figure 1. EXSS Year in Review (2014-15)

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.

2015-16 EXSS Strategic Priorities

Figure 2. EXSS Strategic Plan and Priorities in 2015-16.

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.

  1. Increase experiential education opportunities
  2. Increase implementation of “high impact” teaching activities
  3. Undergraduate course / curriculum review / revision
  4. Implement an EXSS alumni survey
  5. 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.

  1. Increase faculty submitting for external funding
  2. Increase participation in the EXSS grant development program
  3. Maintain grant funding secured above $1.5 million
  4. Streamline our grant submission and award management process
  5. Maintain presentation and publication quantity
  6. Increase number of “high impact” / “top tier” publication
  7. 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.

  1. Continue weekly EXSS impact blog posts
  2. Implement a monthly EXSS impact webinar / video series
  3. Promote faculty and student accomplishments
  4. 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 ( Also, feel free to email me directly ( 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


Ready to Make an Impact in 2014-15

EXSS strategic plan summaryThe first few days of a new academic year are hectic with people adding courses and searching for classrooms, but at the same time it is energizing to see everyone’s excitement as they come to their #HomeontheHill. I know our faculty is also excited to resume working with our students in the classroom, laboratory, and field settings. Personally, I am enthused to continue working towards implementing and achieving the various objectives and priorities laid out in our recently completed strategic plan. I would invite you all to review our strategic plan and see where the department is going this academic year.

Our overall goal is to increase the public impact of Exercise and Sport Science. We believe we can achieve this goal through three different areas. First, we must maintain a high-level of academic quality and achievement for our and be a role model for our peers in providing the best educational experiences. We are on the right trajectory to meet this objective based on data from last year’s graduates.

EXSS Impact by the Numbers 2013-14 We are particularly mindful of providing high quality educational experiences given the rapid rise in our student numbers. In 2014, we graduated 235 students from EXSS. This represents the 8th largest number of graduates across the College of Arts & Sciences, and 3rd largest in the Natural Sciences. Our current student numbers further indicate that we are a department on the rise. We estimate there are currently over 1,300 majors in EXSS and recent data indicate that EXSS is one of the top 10 intended majors for the incoming freshmen class #UNC18. Thus, providing an impactful educational experience is a top priority and we continue to explore multiple ways to ensure we deliver.

A second key objective is to increase the impact of research conducted in EXSS. To achieve this objective we are working to increase the amount of external research funding by EXSS faculty. This will allow us to conduct larger, more impactful studies and provide more research experiences and support for our students. We have made strides toward this objective as EXSS faculty submitted 58 research grants during the 2013-14 academic year, resulting in nearly $1,000,000 in external research funding. In addition, our faculty published 127 scientific articles, 3 books, and 16 book chapters, and participated in 155 presentations. We are poised for even greater success this academic year and we are excited to involve our students in these activities.

A final objective is to better inform our students, colleagues, and the general public about the various ways that EXSS impacts society. To make this happen we have made a significant effort to utilize social media and further engage with our students. I would encourage everyone to follow us on facebook (uncexss) and instagram (@uncexss), like us on twitter (@uncexss), and subscribe to email updates from our departmental blog ( We have a plan to regularly share the latest in EXSS news and events through these various social media sites. We are committed to keeping our students and alumni informed, so please send us any great stories or happenings. Feel free to email me directly ( with any information you think would be good to share with our faculty, students and alumni.

I am excited to see all of the impactful accomplishments our faculty and students will achieve this year and I look forward to sharing these successes with you. I hope that you a great start to what is certain to be a year to remember in EXSS. Let’s make this a year to remember and make an #EXSSimpact!

Go Heels!

Darin A. Padua, PhD, ATC
Professor and Chair, Department of Exercise and Sport Science

P.S. For all our undergraduate students who are interested in serving on the EXSS Student Advisory Council this year, be sure to see last week’s blog post

EXSS Impact Pic