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Gerald Carlson – Health & Physical Education Faculty, 1980-84 & 1987-1999

Gerald Carlson

Health and Physical Education

            I became department head at USL during Summer 1980.  My first impression was that I had inherited a very strong department that was split over professional and personal ideals.  If I had coffee with faculty from one side of the spectrum, then I was accused of “siding” with them, and the next day it would be just the opposite.  Because the faculty were dedicated professionals, in a relatively short time everyone was starting to get on the same page and realized that we had a  common goal, and that goal was to provide the best programs possible for our customers, our students.  One of the first challenges was the design and construction of a new physical education complex, now known as Bourgeois Hall.  The input from all faculty, students and staff resulted in development of a state-of-the-art facility unmatched in the South and Southeast as a teaching and recreation facility.

            One thing that stands out about the faculty is their professional involvement.  Even the instructors who were not expected to conduct scholarship/research, were presenting papers at professional meetings and publishing.  The faculty has always played an active role in professional organizations, holding office in many.  Several faculty have national and international reputations because of their knowledge base.  The advantage to the students is that the faculty take this knowledge base back to the classroom so the students gain first hand knowledge.

           The profile of the department has changed since 1980.  We have moved from a predominately teacher certification program to one that has several non-certification concentration areas including: exercise science, sports medicine, athletic training, health promotion and wellness, sport administration, and recreation.  This emphasis change was necessary to remain current with national trends.  As a result of adding the concentration areas, the number of majors has increased from approximately 250 to over 600.  We are currently preparing to have the athletic training curriculum accredited which will be the first in the state.

There are several things of which I am most proud.  First, I am especially proud of the quality of our faculty and the quality of their instruction.  Second, the quality of our majors is a plus.  In review of our graduates, the list of their career titles is very impressive: teachers, coaches, school administrators, physicians, physical therapists, physician assistants, athletic trainers. The list goes on.  We have had several students attend graduate school and receive their Masters  and/or doctorate degrees.  I believe the greatest complement to our students is their involvement in our professional associations and at conventions where they always behave in a professional manner.  As a result, numerous supervisors of physical education from around the state have stated their willingness to hire our majors.  The third area of which I am proud is the quality of our programs.  We have a reputation within the state that our undergraduate program is stronger than most masters degree programs in the state.  It’s no wonder our students do so well when they continue their education.

Serving as department head at USL has been the most rewarding experience in my thirty two year career in higher education.  It has afforded me the opportunity to travel throughout the United States and Canada presenting papers and representing the department at professional meetings.  I would be remiss in not thanking Dr. Authement for allowing me to return to USL as department head after taking three years off to work in the private sector from 1984-1987.  His confidence in me has made my job a lot easier.  I have been fortunate to work with three Deans and two Academic Vice Presidents, all of whom have added greatly to my administrative expertise.  Having served as Executive Officer of the USL Faculty Senate was very rewarding in that it enabled me to learn about the administrative side of running a major university.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my working relationship with the athletic department.  My experience at USL has been enhanced by serving on numerous committees which developed many policies currently in place at the university.  Whatever personal accomplishments I have achieved, I need to attribute them to the tremendous support staff with which I have worked: our students, faculty, staff and university administrators who gave me the opportunity to do the things I have done.  My thanks to everyone.