Major renovation underway for home of new Kinesiology department

Photo of Gill Physical Education Learning Center at McDaniel College
November 06, 2017

McDaniel College has begun construction on a $6.6 million project to expand and modernize classroom and research facilities in the Gill Physical Education Learning Center. The project is supported by a $3 million grant approved by the state of Maryland during its 2017 legislative session.

The major renovation, expected to be complete in the fall of 2018, will facilitate the growth of the department housing the College’s largest major, known most recently as Exercise Science and Physical Education (EPE). As of July 1, the official name of both the department and the major is Kinesiology. The name change signals the program’s evolution to its current scientific focus on the study of how the human body works and how to enhance or rehabilitate it. McDaniel is the only independent college or university in Maryland to offer the Kinesiology major.

Since the 1889 opening of the College’s first gymnasium, the department has undergone many changes. It has offered courses in personal hygiene, sportsmanship and discipline; it has supported intercollegiate athletics; and it has taught individuals how to educate others about fitness and health and how to coach athletic teams. Today, intercollegiate athletics is a separate department with its own mission and students’ personal fitness goals are supported by the Merritt Fitness Center.

While the Kinesiology department will continue to offer a variety of courses designed to promote fitness and lifetime wellness as part of the College’s general education requirement for all students, its academic focus has become increasingly science-related. As the number of Kinesiology majors grows, so does the need for classrooms and laboratories.

Twenty-eight percent of the student body uses Gill Center for classwork; however it does not have sufficient classroom space. Gill Center houses two Kinesiology laboratories, however they are located in spaces designed for other purposes (one occupies a former storage area and another former weight training room). And although anatomy and physiology is a requirement of the Kinesiology major, there is no space in Gill Center for the labs, which currently are located in Eaton Hall.

The number of faculty and staff in Kinesiology and athletics has doubled in 30 years, yet the space for offices remains virtually the same as it was in 1984. The renovation will maximize underutilized spaces within the existing Gill Center complex. New classrooms, offices and human performance, neuromuscular, anatomy and physiology labs will be created in reclaimed space under old Gill; the mezzanine level of the main gymnasium will be reconfigured to create additional classrooms and spectators’ areas.

The EPE program, now Kinesiology, has a strong record of preparing high-quality trainers and teachers, as well as graduate students in the allied health professions. Department alumni have gone on to receive advanced degrees in the discipline from McDaniel’s graduate program, as well as at 36 other institutions across the nation, including Oklahoma State University, the University of Kansas, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of North Carolina. A significant number of McDaniel alumni have also gone on to receive advanced training in nursing, chiropractic, podiatry, optometry and physical therapy.